Township Rollers were the toast of the day yesterday (Saturday) as they made the nation proud by sailing through to the CAF League Championship Group stages as they knocked out Tanzania’s Young Africans by a 2-1 aggregate following a goalless second leg fixture before a capacity packed National Stadium.
Not only did Nikola Kavazovic’s boys send the joyful fans into a frenzy of song and dance, but they also gave their veteran midfielder, Tshepo ’Talk Talk’ Motlhabankwe, a befitting present in grand style on his 37th birthday.
An overjoyed Kavazovic could not hide his excitement as he shed a tear and knelt with fingers pointed to the heavens, emotionally dedicating the victory to his son who passed away two years ago. “I believe he was watching but it’s a pity he will not celebrate with me tonight,” he said.
A determined Popa had marched onto the pitch buoyed by the 2-1 aggregate advantage from the first leg victory.
The enthusiastic crowd that saw fans and officials from other clubs joining masses of Popa followers- in the spirit of national pride, also provided the much needed morale boost as they cheered Mapalastina on throughout the game.
Although they failed to score any goal yesterday, the visitors appeared much more organised and determined compared to their first game in their own backyard.
They managed to close the gaps and denied Popa a goal.
Kavazovic said he was excited to have reached the group stage of the competition and was confident that with two more months left before the championship resumes, his charges will have sufficient time to prepare for the much tougher group stages.
For his part, Joel Mogorosi, said they have achieved what they wanted this season.
He said they won the Top8 Cup and that they are now through to CAF group stages with another possibility of defending the BTC league title.
“The season is almost over and we are happy we got what we wanted. The group stage will be played off season which will help us to prepare for the next season. The Coach told us to enjoy our game, not to put ourselves under pressure because there was no how our opponents could score more than two goals. The support we got today was very impressive and we thank Batswana for that,” said Mogorosi.
The victory also provided monetary incentive for Township Rollers as the group stages guarantee them $550 000 (over) P5million.