Gunners aim to halt rampant rollers
Extension Gunners will become the latest team to try and stop run-away league leaders Township Rollers when the two sides meet at the National Stadium on Saturday.
Defending champions Popa emerged 2-0 victors when the rivals met earlier in the season in a bad-tempered, hard-fought game also played at the National Stadium.
The win proved to be the catalyst for a remarkable 10-match winning run in the league for rampant Rollers, who conceded just two goals and scored 25 in that period.
The astonishing sequence was only ended in Orapa last weekend, when the Ostriches managed to hold Rollers to a one-all draw.
Popa’s irresistible league form has seen them open up a four-point gap at the top of the table over second placed Galaxy FC, with Orapa now a distant third, 11 points behind Rollers.
Two-thirds of the way through the season and with just ten games left to play, football fans throughout the country are now asking, ‘can anyone stop Rollers?’
Conversely, Gunners own title hopes, which had burned so brightly at the start of the season, have faded tamely away since the 2-0 defeat to Popa back in December.
Following that result, Mapantsula have managed just three wins from nine league games – a disappointing run that has seen the Lobatse giants drop to sixth position and in real danger of missing out on a place in the Top 8.
However, despite the current contrast in form between the two clubs, Rollers coach Teenage Mpote anticipates a difficult encounter on Saturday.
“We are in a tough situation in that there is no easy game for us. This shows that teams are committed and there is no small team in this league. When we were playing against Hotspurs they gave us a tough game.
“Gunners are always tough against us, we defeated them 2-0 first round but it was not an easy game,” he said.
According to Mpote, the Blues will be without their talismanic attacking midfielder Segolame Boy, who is nursing a shoulder injury and has been ruled out of the meeting.
Zebra’s captain Joel Mogorosi and Tshepo Motlhabankwe are also doubts for the fixture, with both having to undergo late physical tests to prove their fitness.
Speaking to Voice Sport, Gunners Public Relations Officer, Edwin Mabapa stressed that his side were viewing the encounter as an ‘opportunity for revenge’.
He believes winning this game will ‘heal the team’ who are nursing wounds after losing 1-0 against GU last Sunday.
A frustrated Mabapa noted that Gunners have conceded late goals in their last four matches, something they would be desperate to avoid against the free-scoring Rollers.
“This shows lack of concentration. The coach has worked on correcting that weakness during training this week. The team is ready and we will fight with all we have to win this one,” he said.
A fired-up Mabapa appeared to be brimming with confidence as he went on to say, “Players are looking forward to playing and morale in the camp is high. We have quality and competitive players and we will not be intimidated by Rollers’ position on the log.”
Meanwhile, Gunners kit is to be sold by public auction before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone this Friday.
Court granted the auction after Mapantsula failed to pay their former coach Keitumetse Pio Paul and former player Raphael Nthwane.
Responding to this, a defiant Mabapa assured the Gunners family that the team would have a kit to use for Saturday’s game, which is scheduled to kick-off at half-three.