Botswana’s two CAF Champions league representatives, Township Rollers and BDF XI, have a massive task ahead of them to turn tables around in their favour to go through to the next round of the competition. Both teams have lost their opening games away from home and will be looking to redeem their chances in the final leg.
Whatever effort advanced by the local teams will, however, not be a walk in the park as their opponents will be looking to come and finish what they started in the first leg. To add salt to the wound the two sides have a jam packed fixture ahead of them. Following their mid-week loses in their respective beMOBILE Premier League games; the morale of the teams could be dented. This could work against them in the CAF encounters next week.
Local sports analysts however see this otherwise. According to Mmoni Segopolo, he sees Rollers and BDF XI still having a chance to over-come their opponents to go to the next leg. Segopolo said both teams have psychologists to help the players focus on what they are doing. “The players should be directed to take one game at a time and not place their focus on CAF games at this time,” Segopolo said. He believes that this is exactly what the coaches and officials are doing.
Segopolo said it is not the first time the two teams participate in CAF and they have the experience needed in the African show-piece. The former Rollers striker said even though BDF XI have 0-2 deficit against Tanzania’s Young African SC, the army team still has a chance to go through. “They have quality players and the home ground advantage might as well work for them. They should not be ruled out as yet,” he said.
Another analyst, Fabian Zulu, concurred with Segopolo, saying a 0-2 deficit is easy to overcome. However, he pointed that all this will depend on the focus and attitude of the players at the time of the game. “They should show commitment and fight until the end to brush aside the Tanzanian team,” he said.
Turning to Rollers who came back with an all-important away goal against the Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs, in their 1- 2 defeat Segopolo said they have even a great chance of proceeding. “The way they played in South Africa has proved that they are at the same level with Chiefs in terms of play and it can be easy for them to win if they stick to their game plan,” he highlighted.
When Kaizer Chiefs take on Rollers, they will be looking at defending their lead at all costs. For Rollers to emerge as victors from the game, Segopolo and Zulu agree that they will have to attack the visitors from the start.
“Rollers will have to look for an early goal to un-settle Kaizer Chiefs. They should be quick in their attacks to get them on counter,” said Zulu. He, however, said they should be cautious when doing this not to leave openings at the back. Segopolo said Rollers should avoid giving un-necessary set pieces near their goals and avoid defending too deep. “Chiefs' quarter backs enjoy moving up-front too much, Rollers should capitalise on this and catch them on counters,” he said.
In the run-up to their CAF games, both Rollers and BDF XI will be having a string of competitive fixtures. The teams will be playing at least two matches in a week, a development that some foot-ball lovers see as a dis-advantage to the home teams.
Commenting on this, Zulu agreed to some extent that this may have an effect on the teams’ performance, saying it is the first time in Botswana football for teams to play three games in a space of a week. He, however, said Rollers and BDF XI “are professional teams and they train twice a day and this can come handy to them”. Regardless, Zulu said this is going to be difficult on both teams since all the games they are playing are highly competitive and require all efforts needed from players. “This could drain the players off their energies,” he pointed out.
However, Segopolo begged to dis-agree with this, saying it is not a big load that the players can be fatigued. He is of the view that all this will depend on the training methods of both teams and he believes that the coaches have a comprehensive training programme in place for the players. The former Zebras striker also highlighted that there is a pool of players to select from. “The reason why CAF register 30 players is for reasons like this so that clubs have a variety to choose from in tough times. I personally do not see this as an issue to raise eyebrows,” said Segopolo.
Efforts to reach coaches of both clubs were un-successful as their phones rang un-answered.