Tswapong meets Boteti in FDN play-offs
The final slot in the First Division North will be decided in Francistown this weekend, in a do-or-die, winner-takes-all match.
The encounter pits Tswapong Regional Champions, Pilikwe United against the best in the Boteti league, Desert Buffaloes.
After winning their respective divisions, both sides fell agonizingly short in the promotional play-offs, Pilikwe losing out to Tsabothe in the Eastern Block back in June, while Buffaloes were piped to promotion by Makungulupeswa in the Northern Block play-offs last weekend.
By finishing second in the play-offs, the duo were handed one last season-defining shot at salvation, a 90-minute battle that will play out in Ghetto as east meet north.
Founded by seasoned football administrator Fobby Radipotsane in 2003, Pilikwe United is currently under the tutelage of former Tafic FC and Chadibe FC gaffer, Murphy Maseko.
The experienced tactician, who has coached in seven regions in Botswana, is confident his youthful squad has the pedigree to play in the country’s second tier.
“My players’ age range is 17 to 22. They’re still very young and eager to learn. I expect them to cause serious problems for Buffalos,” predicted Maseko, speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday.
In securing second place in the play-offs, Maseko’s charges didn’t concede a single goal in 270 minutes of football, keeping three clean sheets.
A lack of firepower cost them at the other end, however, as they managed a solitary strike on their way to securing one win and two draws.
In contrast, Buffaloes had no problem finding the back of the net, smashing in seven goals in their three play-off games.
“I’ve only watched them once, and I picked they are into power play, so we’ve worked on that,” said Maseko, who was in Ghetto over the weekend to scout out his Boteti opponents.
“The boys are ready. We gave them a week’s break after the play-offs, so now they’re ready to play,” he continued, ending by thanking Pilikwe legends such as Trigger Molelelwa and Oris Radipotsane for their support in helping motivate his players.
Feeling equally confident, the man in the opposite dugout, Bapisane ‘Mlangeni’ Molopata, declared emphatically, “We’re heading to the first division.”
The Buffalos boss believes all the momentum is with his boys having played more recently than Pilikwe, whose last taste of competitive action was almost a month ago.
“We don’t know much about them, except that they are good in wing play, which we’ll deal with,” he promised.
Molopata said his team will showcase the cream of Boteti talent on Saturday.
“All our players are from this region. We’ve players from Mokoboxane, Rakops and Xhumu where I also come from,” Molopata told Voice Sport.
Although a Rakops team, Buffaloes train in Mmadikola, just 10 kilometres away.
“The team could not secure a training ground in Rakops, so we moved to Mmadikola. That however is not important, we are a Boteti team, and we need our people to rally behind us,” he concluded, urging his supporters to once again make the trip to Ghetto for the final push.