Former GU stars relive past glories ahead of CAF Confederations clash
There’s a wave of optimism and self-belief sweeping through Gaborone United ahead of Saturday’s CAF Confederations Cup clash at the National Stadium.
It is the type of confidence older GU fans will remember well, a throwback to their 80s and 90s heyday when the Reds were the dominant force in local football.
Back then, the Gaborone giants had a happy knack for winning cup competitions, a reputation that gave birth to the nickname ‘The Money Machine’.
That spark would later fizzle out with the emergence of Mochudi Centre Chiefs, the ever present Township Rollers and more recently, diamond duo Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy.
With three consecutive Orange FA Cups triumphs to their name, and a 2022 league title in-between, the pendulum has swung full scale once again – The Money Machine are back in fashion!
As they gear up for a preliminary double header against Elgeco Plus of Madagascar, former players are confident Moyagoleele will sweep aside their Malagasy opponents.
Legendary striker, Chandy Moruti won the golden boot in the 1995/96 season with 26 goals, beating prolific stars such as the late Joseph ‘Big Joe’ Chikoti, Tummi ‘Doma Doma’ Duiker and Francis Chisenga.
Moruti believes the current crop of players have what it takes to make it to the group stage of Africa’s second biggest club competition.
“CAF gives you high level impact games, the passion starts right from the airport when you arrive. This is the atmosphere GU fans and football lovers should give visiting teams,” advised Moruti.
Recalling his own playing days, the hot shot revealed they would usually find stadia packed at 10 in the morning.
“I experienced that in Maputo in ‘94 when we played Ferrouiano de Mapatu. The passion was even displayed in the hotels we were booked in,” he said.
Former defender, Branco ‘Zokora’ Molokwane urged the players to put the tie to bed on Saturday, warning that away encounters on the continent can prove tricky.
“African teams are known for their dirty, intimidating tactics. I recall one incident after defeating an Egyptian side 1-0 in Gaborone, everything changed when we got to Egypt,” he said.
Having initially been told they’d be playing in Cairo, Molokwane and co touched down in the Egyptian capital, only to find a bus waiting for them at the airport; the game had been moved to a town 500km away!
“We were tired, and they booked us at a beachside hotel full of women in bikinis. All these were a distraction to the team and the results were telling,” he said – GU went on to lose the match 7-1!
The former defender, however, feels the current GU team have more than enough to overcome Elgeco Plus.
Should they succeed as expected, a sterner test awaits in the next round, in the form of South Africa’s Supersport United.
Molokwane is confident the Reds can beat the Pretoria outfit.
“They’ve everything at their disposal. They’ve facilities, are paid well and have contracts. Now all they have to do is go out there and give back to management and fans by winning games,” Molokwane told Voice Sport.
His sentiments were shared by former crafty midfielder, Tshepo ‘Schoolboy’ Molefhe whom vividly remembers the disastrous Egypt trip.
“We were cruising 1-0 going into the second leg, and we knew we could defeat the Egyptian team. However that trip from the airport completely changed everything,” recalled Molefhe.
“I also have to admit that the ladies at the hotel were a distraction to most players, and it showed in the match. We lost 7-1, and I scored the consolation goal,” Molefhe added with a giggle.
“I don’t expect that from the current crop of players, because they’re also national team players. I expect them to make the group stage,” he said.
In what is perhaps one of the biggest results in the club’s history, GU knocked out Orlando Pirates from the CAF Champions League in 2010.
After a goalless draw in Gaborone, it looked as if United’s journey would end after the Soweto giants scored two quick goals in the second half through Katlego Mashego and Bennet Chenene.
However, an 84th minute own goal by Mashego gave GU hope.
A minute later, that hope exploded into full blown euphoria when Stephen Maposa headed home to silence the packed Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Money Machine held on, securing their spot in the next round courtesy of the away goal rule.
Now the Assistant Coach, Maposa hopes to experience such magical nights from the technical bench.
“It doesn’t come easily. You’ve to work hard. Our work rate against Pirates was amazing, and that is how you win CAF games,” Maposa said.
Oozing with confidence after the Pirates result, GU went on to steamroll Curepipe Starlight of Mauritius, thrashing the islanders 6-0.
Their journey ended at the feet of Zimbabwean outfit Dynamos, with the Reds unable to turnaround a 4-1 deficit from the first leg in Harare, although they did win the home game 1-0.
‘Shamwari’ as his adoring fans love to call him, is looking to instill this ‘never say die’ attitude in the current crop.
“Luckily for us, most of our players are in the national team, and know what is expected of them. They should play like Champions, and never be intimidated,” he said.
The assistant coach called on GU supporters and football lovers to attend the match in huge numbers.
“This is the time we put our club rivalry aside and rally behind a team representing us in a regional competition,” concluded Maposa.
Tickets for the match are P50 for the grand stand and P20 elsewhere. Kick-off is 1600hrs