Tafic go hunting for orange diamonds in the sand

Kabelo Dipholo

TAFIC FC left the city of Francistown on Thursday, departing on a mining expedition over 917 km away in Hukuntsi.

Matjimenyenga, who brushed aside Mmadinare Giant Aces 5-0 to progress to the second round of the Orange FA Cup, will find Sand Diamonds FC lying in wait.

On paper, this should be a routine win for the awakened Francistown giants, but digging out Diamonds from their sandy background might prove no small task.

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Caretaker Coach, Kopanelo ‘Shine’ Maleke is well aware of that.

“We know what to expect,” Maleke, who was roped in to replace the departed Philimon Makwengwe, told Voice Sport on Wednesday.

With twin 2-1 victories over Gaborone United and VTM since taking over the reigns, Maleke has enjoyed a perfect start to life in the Tafic hot seat.

He is confident that will continue in the Kgalagadi on Saturday.

”We’re injury free, and all my players are available for selection which is a good thing,” revealed the gaffer.

Although he admitted to not knowing much about their weekend opponents, Maleke said he expects Diamonds to play a traditional 4-4-2 formation favoured by most teams at lower divisions.

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“Teams at that level usually have no play structure, so we can never be complacent,” he said.

The coach admitted their biggest concern was playing in the sandy pitch, a tricky surface his players are not used to.

“We had a training session in the river so the boys could have a feel of what is to come. We’re aware of what they did to Jwaneng Young Stars, so we have to bring our A-game,” he added.

The coach will be looking to the club’s three January signings: goalkeeper Katlego Mbise, striker Onkabetse Makgantai and midfielder, Ronnie Leagetse to wireld their influence.

“Their presence has made a difference. These are players who have tasted success before, so they know what it takes to win,” he said.

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This, however, does not faze Diamonds Coach, Ohilwe Bobebe in anyway.

The tactician, whose team narrowly missed out on promotion to the First Division after winning the Hukuntsi Regional Football league, sent a serious warning to the Premier League side.

“We’re underdogs because we’re from a lower division. That is exactly what Young Stars thought when they came here a fortnight ago,” he said.

The Hukuntsi outfit dumped the Jwaneng club out of the cup, winning 5-4 in a penalty shootout after playing to a 1-1 draw.

“My only concern is my key midfield player, Otsogile Lucas is serving a red card suspension,” he said.

Founded in 1972, Diamonds is the first team in the village and has one of the biggest followings. The team will be competing for the second time in the Orange FA Cup.

In their maiden appearance in 2019, they made it to the third knockout stage where they lost 4-0 to the eventual winners, Orapa United.

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The team is currently second on the table with 20 points, four points behind log leaders Tshane Rangers.

“We defeat Tafic, and then close the gap on Rangers next weekend. That’s our plan,” was Bobebe’s parting short.

Kick-off is 1600hrs at the Sand Diamonds Ground, with entrance set at P30.

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