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TIGHT MARKING: Alphonse Modisaotsile blocking the ball from Township Rollers striker Tumisang Orebonye

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A rivalry reignited

GALAXY AND GU MEET IN TOP 8 REPEAT

The ninth edition of the fabled Mascom Top 8 kick-starts this weekend, pitting the best teams in the land against each other as they battle it out for P1.4 million.

This year’s draw has thrown up a number of intriguing encounters, including a repeat of the last final as defending champion’s Jwaneng Galaxy and Gaborone United lock horns once again.

Each with two titles to their name, the clubs are the most successful in Top 8 history.

In an absorbing finale played out in the drizzle of Francistown, Galaxy ran out 2-0 winners to break GU hearts.

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The Money Machine have been given an instant shot at redemption.

However, having handed GU their first loss of the season in a 3-1 thumping just two weeks ago, Miguel Da Costa’s troops will be confident of progressing in the competition.

Galaxy will be looking to Tebogo Sembowa to continue his love affair with the Top 8. The 31-year-old forward is searching for an unprecedented sixth Gold medal, having won the tournament twice with Galaxy, twice with GU and once with Rollers.

Sembowa destroyed his former team when the two sides meet earlier this month, scoring all three of Galaxy’s goals to complete a stunning hattrick. He will be hungry to dish out more pain.

Despite their recent dominance over GU, the diamond club’s captain, Thabo Leinanyane stressed they were treating Moyagoleele with the upmost respect.

“Our opponents have new players and a new coach so we worked thoroughly in our preparations to avoid upsets. They are very strong in the midfield so we have to play with caution to cut their supply up-front.

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“We have prepared well and are ready to execute our coach’s plan. We have to stop them scoring because it can work to their advantage on second leg,” said the 26-year-old former Gilport Lions defender.

Leinanyane noted that the club’s recent shun by the Zebras – not a single player was selected for the games against Zimbabwe and Algeria – could work in their favour.

“None of us was called for the national team camp so we had time to train together as a team during two weeks FIFA break,” he concluded.

Leinanyane’s opposite number, GU captain Alphonse Modisaotsile, 34, told Voice Sport his squad was bursting with Top 8 experience and would not be overawed by the occasion.

Modisaotsile highlighted the importance of scoring an away goal and taking a lead into the second leg.

“I think the mistake we made in the previous encounter in the Top 8 final was to concede an early goal – we must not allow it to happen again! We have not been doing well in the league so this is the time to redeem ourselves as it will also boost our confidence for the next games.

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“All players are available for selection and the league break gave us enough time to prepare,” said Modisaotsile, adding they will be banking on new signings Joel Mogorosi and Mara Moloi Modisaotsile to show their worth.

The two sides meet in Jwaneng on Sunday for the latest chapter in their rich rivalry – with a second leg still to follow, plenty of twists and turns are expected.

The Top 8 action starts on Friday as three time finalists, Orapa United host this season’s form team and early league leader’s Security Systems at Itekeng Stadium.

On Saturday, Molepolole City Stars face Township Rollers while BDF XI play Police XI on Monday at Molepolole.

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