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A rivalry reignited

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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.

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.

“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.

“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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Mass brawl overshadows Galaxy/Orapa thriller

*Semi-final finely poised after 1-1 first-leg draw

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There was little love on show between mining brothers Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United during their Mascom Top8 semi-final first-leg on Sunday, with players involved in a mass on-field brawl midway through the second half.

The unseemly scuffle overshadowed what was a high-quality affair and ultimately ended finely poised at 1-1.

Although it was not clear what sparked the scrap – with neither manager wanting to talk about it after the game – it appears Galaxy players took exception to ‘an item’ left in the Orapa goal.

To add to the confusion, the referee appeared to show Galaxy striker Tebogo Sembowa a red card for his part in the melee only to seemingly change his mind and reverse his decision.

As for the action, Jwaneng broke the deadlock in the 19th minute thanks to a thunderous strike from Lesenya Malepela. The shot took a deflection on the way, wrong footing Lesenya Malepela in the Orapa goal and sending the home supporters wild.

However, the lead lasted just five minutes with the Ostriches forcing an equalizer through Lawrence Ndunga.

That brought an early end to the scoring, with both teams creating, but unable to convert, numerous chances in a frenetic second-half.

It mans that the defending champions will have to get a result in Orapa if they are to become the first side to retain the Mascom Top8 title in the tournament’s nine-year history.

Speaking to Voice Sport after the game, Galaxy gaffer Miguel Da Costa admitted there was little to choose between the two sides.

“The two teams have quality and they play good football hence you could not know who was going to win. We made a few mistakes and we were little bit better than Orapa United, we were just unlucky to come up with a draw,” was the Portuguese tactician’s assessment of the match.

For his part, Orapa United coach Mogomotsi Mpote said he was extremely happy to leave Jwaneng with a 1-1 draw.

“It was difficult to play Galaxy because they are a good side but our plan went very well. We wanted a goal to take home and it happened. Now we are going to attack Galaxy at home and see what happens,” revealed Mpote confidently.

The return leg is set for Saturday 8 February.

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Ntimbale challenge returns

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After a three-year hiatus, Ntimbale Challenge is back again in Masingwaneng on 28th and 29th February.

The exciting annual event staged at Ntimbale Dam covers the villages of Masingwaneng, Mambo, Gulubane, Botalaote, Sechele, Makaleng, Matenge and Toteng in the North East District.

According to the event’s founder, Oteng Mokowe, the Ntimbale Challenge was conceptualised in 2013, but they had to wait until 2016 to stage the first event.

“I had to delay the event because most people thought I was using it to campaign for the 2014 General elections,” explained Mokowe.

In 2016 however, the long anticipated event kicked off in style with over 20 riders competing, and cultural nights held on Friday and Saturday.

“After the event, royals from the involved villages approached me with the idea of using the event to raise money for the Village Trust Fund. I gave them a go ahead to host the event the following year, and all the money made was handed over to the village leadership,” Mokowe told Voice Sport.

He said together with three others, they had to pop out P20 000 each to sponsor the event.

However to his disappointment, the Ntimbale challenge did not take place in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“This meant we had to come back as the originators of the event and revive it. I can assure you, this year it’s going to be big,” said an excited Mokowe.

He further told Voice Sport that they started the event to promote tourism and to boost the economy of the north east by using the facilities available in the area.

“We’ve increased activities and have included camel rides, hiking and canoe racing. We are also trying to get skydivers – our challenge is that the country has only two dive masters who will be engaged on the said dates,” said Mokowe adding that they’re however still hopefully of getting the divers at least for the official opening day on Friday.

According to Mokowe, bikers will do two 50km laps on a treacherous track starting from Ntimbale dam, going past Vukwi, Gulubane, Matenge and back to the starting point popularly known as The Ark.

The official opening, expected to be performed by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, will be on Friday 28th in Masingwaneng, followed by a cultural night featuring Dikakapa, Dipela Tsa Ga Kobokwe, City Polka, Matambanadzo Cultural Group, Kenny Mackenzie, while negotiations are still ongoing to bring on board Tjilenje Tje Ngwao.

There’ll be another cultural night on Saturday and a music festival at If Not Why Not Club in Makaleng featuring the likes of La Timmy and DJ Gouveia.

“We’ve also invited revered Muvhango actor Macdonald Tshifhiwa Ndou populalrly known as ‘KK’ who’ll hold motivational sessions with Francistown based actors and drama groups from schools in the area,” revealed Mokowe.

This event will be carried out in liaison with Botswana Tourism Organisation and Water Utilities Corporation.

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Rollers with one leg in Top 8 Final

*Popa gain commanding 3-1 first leg lead over BDF XI

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Township Rollers have one leg in the Mascom Top8 final after a ruthless display against BDF XI at the Royal Aria Stadium on Saturday.

Popa ran out convincing 3-1 winners in the first-leg of their semi-final clash with a BDF XI side that looked short of ideas and struggled to get out of first gear.

A Tumisang Orebonye penalty, Edwin Moalosi’s deflected strike and a late tap-in from substitute Motsholetsi Sikele had given the two-time winners a commanding three-goal advantage.

However, the Army Boys breathed unexpected life back into the tie, breaching Rollers well-drilled defence in the 88th minute courtesy of Oratile Taunyane’s perfectly placed header.

It leaves the semi-final intriguingly poised, with Rollers taking a two-goal lead into the second leg. Having blown a similar lead against Gaborone United at the same stage last year, Popa will be wary of slipping up again.

The game also gave Rollers fans a first glimpse of their exciting new signing, Francis Afriyie, who came on as a 70th minute substitute. Although the Ghanaian’s first touch let him down on a number of occasions – much to the annoyance of Popa’s passionate supporters – he showed enough skill to suggest he could be a big player for Rollers in the months to come.

After the game, BDF XI mentor Letang Kgengwenyane insisted there is still much to play for.

“We are not under pressure because anything can happen at the second-leg, we believe we can overturn this result. From here, we are going back to the drawing board and will see where we went wrong so that we rectify our mistakes,” he told Voice Sport.

Unsurprisingly Kgengwenyane’s opposite number, Frank Nuttal, was all smiles in his post-match interview. The Scot has enjoyed a dream start to his time at Rollers, following up a 7-0 league thumping of Police XI in his first game in charge with the dismantling of BDF XI.

“I am happy because the boys executed my plan well. However, we should not get carried away because we still have the second-leg to play and that is when we can be delighted to have qualified for the final!” said Nuttal, who is fast becoming a cult hero amongst the Popa faithful.

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