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‘Samba boys maintain impressive run

Mogoditshane Fighters make it 8-in-a-row with late win against Red Sparks

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Early pace setters Mogoditshane Fighters maintained their four-point lead at the top of the Debswana First Division South table with a late winner at home to Red Sparks on Saturday.

Having been second best for much of the match, the league leader’s secured the points thanks to Kabo Ngongorego’s calm strike in the dying minutes of the game.

The 1-0 triumph was the ‘Samba Boys’ eighth consecutive victory – a remarkable run considering they lost their first two fixtures of the season!

With just one game to go until the halfway point in the season, Fighters are perfectly poised to gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League after a six-year absence.

However, speaking to Voice Sport after his side’s hard fought win, Fighters Coach Otlaadisa Mohambi, stressed he would not get carried away by their current form.

“There is still a long way to go hence we cannot relax and say we have won the league. We are going to keep working hard until we reach our ultimate goal which is to be promoted to the elite league!” said Mohambi.

For Red Sparks, the result overshadowed a decent performance in which they enjoyed plenty of possession and created numerous goal-scoring chances but lacked a killer edge up front. 

This will be especially puzzling to Sparks’ Coach Thaloba Nthaga. Despite losing half of their games this season, Nthaga’s troops are actually the division’s second top scorers having found the back of the net 13 times – two less than Fighters.

“I think we did everything well but we were just unlucky to have lost this game right at the end. However, I feel there is no difference between us and Fighters, they are just fortunate to have won the match!” reflected Nthaga, whose side would have moved up to fifth in the table with a win.

Elsewhere, Masitaoka edged out Mochudi Rovers 1-0 to ensure they finish the week in second place. Breathing down their necks just a point behind are Union Flamengo Santos, who hammered bottom placed Ncojane Young Stars 4-0. 

Mochudi Centre Chiefs returned to winning ways after a six game winless run, beating Broadhurst United 1-0 at home, a scoreline that was repeated by Matebejana away at Holy Ghost. 

The final game of the weekend saw Jwaneng Fighters and Black Forest play out a goalless draw.

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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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