*Makhwengwe looks to upset Rollers in Gaborone derby
It could be a case of deja vu for Phillimon Makwengwe on Saturday afternoon when his Gaborone United take on the high flying Township Rollers in the BTC Premier League Gaborone derby.
The newly appointed United coach has never defeated Rollers in three previous attempts.
The derby gets underway at 15:45 at the National Stadium where the two titans are expected to pull out all the stops and roll back the years with an exciting brand of football and cracking goals to match.
GU are clear underdogs. The Old Naledi outfit are in the red in position 14 with just six points, 20 points adrift of table-topping Rollers.
The Money Machine have won just two matches from the nine played so far. This is in contrast to Rollers’ eight wins from 10.
Popa are yet to lose in the league this season and seem well on their way to bagging a 16th League Championship.
Although Makwengwe will be desperate to get three points to lift his team out of the relegation zone, there’s also a personal battle that the former Botswana Football Association (BFA) Senior Technical Officer will be fighting.
Since learning the ropes as a professional coach, Makwenge is yet to defeat Rollers.
In his short stint as Gaborone United caretaker coach in 2012 ”The Phil’ as he’s dearly known, lost to Rollers twice in the Mascom Top 8 semifinal, losing both matches 2-1.
He however went on to win the last edition of the Coca Cola Cup with GU, which remains his biggest achievement as a top level local coach to date.
Makwengwe also lost 2-0 to The Blues on 3 October as Prisons XI Head Coach.
The charismatic tactician however seem to have a plan for his voodoo team this time around.
“I’ve been holding my training sessions in the morning. We don’t do afternoon training,” he told Voice Sport in an interview.
The GU mentor would not give reasons for this change of training programme, save to say, “We have a good reason for that and we believe it’ll show in the match.”
Makwengwe told Voice Sport the has a full squad to pick from and would be spoilt for choice ahead of the Saturday capital clash.
“My focus now is to ensure that players lead lives of sportsmen. Our players have to know the importance of resting. It is easy to notice in training when a player is engaged in unsportsmanlike behavior,” he said.
From a Blue perspective, Rollers Public Relations Officer Phempherethe Pheto said he’s worried with the way the derby has lost its spark in recent years.
Pheto said in the past the city would be abuzz with excitement.
“Fans would be donning their teams’ replicas and everyone could tell that there was a big fixture coming. That sadly has died,” Pheto noted glumly.
He told Voice Sport that Rollers will be looking to carry on with their title race despite missing injured duo Edwin Moalosi and Gape Mohutsiwa.
“Just like in the past matches Thabo Motang and Leutwetse Tshireletso will be on the technical bench. Rodolfo Zapata is still awaiting his work permit and will be watching from the stands,” Pheto revealed.
Despite the lack of pre-match hype, thrills and spills are once again expected as two of the countries most successful clubs do battle once again.