Ladies might have to work slightly harder to get their boyfriend’s attention this Valentines, as the footballing gods have served up a tantalizing fixture soccer lovers will not want to miss.
After their Champions League hopes were ruthlessly stamped out by South African giants, Mamelodi Sundowns last month, Jwaneng Galaxy have been handed a second mouthwatering shot at a Mzansi powerhouse.
One of the biggest, most popular teams south of the border, Orlando Pirates are in town.
The Buccaneers and Galaxy meet at the National Stadium this afternoon (Sunday) in the first-leg of their play-off for a place in the group stages of the CAF Confederations Cup.
Although Covid-19 has denied fans the opportunity to attend the game, the 3 o’clock kick-off will be broadcast live on Btv.
Despite being thrashed by Sundowns in the first round of the CL, Galaxy were given a continental reprieve thanks to their impressive result against Zilimadjou – ironically they beat the Comoros minnows 5-1, the same scoreline they suffered in their beating by the Brazilians.
Whilst Galaxy secured their participation as a best ‘runner-up’, Pirates advanced to this stage after their opponents in the previous round, Sagrada Esperanca withdraw from the competition.
Having lost the home leg 1-0, succumbing to Thembinkosi Lorch’s 73rd minute strike, the Angolan outfit refused to travel for the return match (scheduled for 6 January), citing health concerns over the new Covid-19 variant in South Africa.
Pirates go into their clash with the defending Botswana champions in mixed form. Currently 4th in the PSL, the Jozi side are five points behind table-topping Sundowns, who have played two games less.
Frustratingly for Coach, Josef Zinnbauer and his troops, although they have only lost three times in 17 league encounters, seven of those outings ended in draws.
Goals have also been relatively hard to come by for Pirates this season, finding the back of the net 19 times in the league.
Galaxy will be hoping Lorch and co do not rediscover their scoring form on Sunday.
The Jwaneng-based team have undergone a severe shake-up to their technical team, with Oris Radipotsane assuming the role of Caretaker Coach and Six Keatlholetswe re-deployed to the Technical Director position.
Additionally, the club’s Goalkeeping Coach, former Zebras No.1, Modiri Marumo is currently in the UK visiting his wife. Mendy Mooketsi has been overseeing the all-important department in Marumo’s absence.
Speaking to Voice Sport, Galaxy Public Relations Director, Tankiso Morake was quick to applaud the team’s African progress despite domestic football lying dormant for 11 months.
Highlighting the uncertainty surrounding the sport in Botswana currently, Morake noted ruefully, “We do not even know when our league will resume.”
Despite this inactivity and the daunting task of facing one of Africa’s biggest clubs, the PR man said he was confident his underdogs could pull off a shocker.
“This is not going to be an easy game as SA league is on and our opponents are active. The good thing is that we watch them playing as their games are televised and we know what to expect. We played friendly games against Township Rollers and Security Systems to try new combinations and test the level of fitness for our players. I must say I am impressed and can confidently say we are ready for this game.”
Galaxy have a full strength squad to pick from, with first choice goalkeeper, Izekiel Morake recovering from the knee injury that caused him to miss the Sundowns games.
Morake added they are expecting their visitors to arrive on Friday afternoon, where they will be made to undergo Covid-19.
The return leg is set for 21 February. How Galaxy will desperately be hoping they have an advantage to take to Msanzi as they seek to plunder Pirates and secure a place in the group stages of Africa’s second biggest club competition.