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Portia Mlilo
ON FORM: Omaatla Kebatho

On fire Oranges host red-hot Reds in Friday night thriller

Fireworks are expected in Francistown on Friday night as the only remaining 100 percent records in the Premier League go head-to-head at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium.

The top of the table clash sees in form Orapa United ‘host’ a Gaborone United side that have started the defence of their title in scintillating style.

Both sides were extremely impressive in their two outings to date, the Ostriches following up a 3-1 opening day success against Masitaoka with a straightforward 2-0 triumph over Mogoditshane Fighters, who put up precious little fight.

GU, meanwhile, are yet to concede, securing consecutive 2-0 victories against BDF XI and then last year’s Division One South winners, Holy Ghost, who seemed a little spooked to be up against the defending champions.

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The Money Machine have happy memories of their recent meetings with the Boys from Boteti, completing the double over Orapa last season as they marched to a 7th BPL championship, ending a 13-year wait for the title.

GU eventually finished the season 14 points above the Ostriches, who ended the campaign in a disappointing 4th.

Orapa Coach, Gadimang Tiiso is confident the club will be much closer this time around, as they bid to win the top flight for the first time in their ten-year history.

Speaking to Voice Sport through the week, Tiiso said he was excited to see how his players get on against the best team in the land – a team that includes former Orapa trio: Mothusi Johnson, Onkabetse Makgantai and Thero Setsile in their ranks.

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OPTIMITIC: Orapa Coach Tiiso

“It is going to be a highly tactical match and our former players will want to prove a point. We are going to fight until the last whistle!” declared the tactician, who replaced Teenage Mpote as Orapa Head Coach at the start of the season.

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Tisso further revealed he has a fully fit squad to pick from.

“We started our training on Tuesday after a day break as we were playing away games over the weekend. My boys are fully recovered. We are injury free and everyone is looking forward to the game,” was his closing remark.

Meanwhile, GU Assistant Coach, Pontsho Moloi told Voice Sport his players were bursting with confidence ahead of the 7pm kick-off.

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He was quick to pour praise on his side’s watertight defence, noting this played a huge part in last season’s success, when Moyagoleele conceded just 13 times in 30 league outings.

“The good thing is we are not conceding and neither are our opponents so it is going to be a mouth-watering and tough encounter. We are impressed with the performance of the new players in the team, the two Kenyans Duncan Otieno and John Mark Makwata and Mothusi Cooper. Duncan is doing well in the midfield and Makwata still needs to be given enough time to adjust and get a goal. Pound for pound we have an upper hand against Orapa; the only time they beat us was during the Charity Cup and that was on penalty shootout,” said Moloi.

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Log Standing

The former Mochudi Centre Chiefs striker, who turns 41 later this month, added his team are familiar with their opponent’s style of play and are well-prepared for what they will face under the lights on Friday.

Moloi said moving the fixture from Orapa’s home ground to the second city – a move enforced by renovation work currently being carried out at the Itekeng – was no added advantage to GU as they have an excellent record in the mining town anyway.

“Since I started coaching at GU, we have played there three times and won all three games,” he said, adding that perhaps the only plus for GU was that the Obed Itani Chilume pitch is bigger and better which will help GU’s free-flowing football.

Moloi said all players are available for selection except Obonwe Maome and Lesego Galenamothale, who are back in training but will not be ready in time for Friday’s crunch game.

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