Dubula and Makhwengwe exchange words ahead of Mascom Top 8 derby showdown
Amongst the numbers thrown up by the first ever Mascom Top 8 ‘tse di tona’ P1million tournament is the fact that for the first time in history the Gaborone derby will be played four times in one season.
This Sunday the two city giants, Gaborone United and Township Rollers will slug it out at the University of Botswana stadium in the first leg of the semifinal tie. Rollers have won both league encounters this season, and GU will be all out for revenge.
When the two teams trot into the UB stadium Rollers Mike Dubula Sithole will be up against his former employers. He was fired under controversial circumstances despite the team being in the top four. The Zambian refuses to admit it will be payback time.
“I don’t hold grudges. You must by now be aware that I am a brand. I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet, but I will not be under any pressure since I have nothing to prove and am not afraid of GU.
“This is work – I have to win the game not because they are my former employers, but because we are chasing glory. This is a different ball game from the league, but it is a fact that when I was at GU they were not in their current league position,” Sithole said.
Just four points separate third placed Rollers from their rivals in the league, and both sets of players will be fully motivated in a game that is set to be a close and entertaining encounter.
Sithole went on to say: “My boys know their players very well so this is a good thing on my side. I won’t reveal my game plan but you know me, I am not one to defend. I am attack minded and you will see my game plan on Sunday after 90 minutes. I think you know my record very well – it speaks for itself,” he said.
Meanwhile over at GU Philemon Makhwengwe, a football instructor with Botswana Football Association currently on unpaid leave to help United, is not one to be intimidated. He dismisses talk of past achievements and lack of experience, preferring to look at his own record.
“I don’t talk about coaches because I train them, but I can tell you that my team is injury free. I have a full squad and its payback time. You don’t have to be a prophet to know that the game will be fierce. It will be a battle of who rules the city and we are up for the challenge.”
Despite this being Makhwengwe’s first derby experience as a coach, he added: “I have been around football for so long that I can’t be intimidated. There may be anxiety amongst the football fraternity and public at large, but there is no pressure amongst us at GU.”
Township Rollers’s nimble footed playmaker, formerly with GU Mirror Shimanyana added his opinion to the pre-match talk.
“Look here I have been at United and know their philosophy. The atmosphere at Rollers differs with theirs – here it is full house week in and out and I expect more of the same. I was made at Gaborone United, it is like a home so I will want to put one over them. Remember that I scored this past weekend so it may just be an added advantage and my confidence is really high,” he said.
For his part GU’s grafter Ofentse Nato, who gave the Zebras an equalizer over the weekend, said the goal was just the beginning of more to come.
He added: “Against Rollers I will be fighting with my life. We will have to win by hook or crook. The boys are very noisy and very confident – the big match atmosphere will motivate us all. Our supporters must come and see us battle for glory.”