Obed Itani Chilume Sports Complex in Francistown will on Saturday stage the titanic clash of local soccer giants – Township Rollers and Orapa United – as they vie for the mouthwatering P1.4m winners’ prize in Mascom Top 8 final.
Rollers and the Ostriches will live nothing to chance in gunning for the ultimate prize.
The winning cash prize has been raised from the P1.3 million which was won in the previous top 8 edition by Jwaneng Galaxy.
Both teams are currently doing well in the league, seating in top 3 bracket and have both progressed to Orange FA Cup last 16 round after their massive wins against minnows recently.
Rollers defeated Tonota FC 6-0 while United thrashed Mogoditshane Fighters 5-1 in FA Cup. During the last Top 8 final when the two met, Rollers emerged victorious by beating Orapa 4-2 during 2017/18 season edition but Orapa revenged last year by beating Popa in the Orange FA final.
To secure a place in this year’s final, Rollers knocked out BDF XI by 3-2 aggregate score whilst Orapa knocked Jwaneng Galaxy by 2-1 score grabbing a late 1-0 narrow win in second leg clash.
Football analyst Jimmy George said while there is very little between the two teams, the game is not going to be easy for any of the teams.
George said it is going to be the proverbial game of margins as it promises to be a test of tactical acumen for new Township Rollers gaffer Frank Nuttall who joined Popa recently.
“He could (Nuttall) win his first trophy since arrival or raise questions about his suitability. He has to give something and Rollers will bear the brunt of pressure more in this game,” he said.
According to George, Orapa United’s burden is much lighter as they will be forgiven for losing to their more illustrious opponents in Rollers. It will be bitter pill to swallow if Rollers were to lose, he added.
Some of the individual players he singled out to be key in the campaign to lead their clubs to Top 8 glory are Tumisang Orebonye, Ofentse Nato and Mothusi Cooper from Rollers side while the Ostriches will look to Onkabetse Makgantai, Mothusi Johnson and Lawrence Ndunga.
Rollers spokesperson Bafana Phempheretlhe Pheto said his team is more than ready, saying their Sunday derby again Gaborone United will be a boost.
Pheto said the derby will be crucial preparatory game, adding that star players Segolame Boy and Jackson Lesole who have just recovered from injuries are back to full training with the team.
“The team is ready to take the fight to the stubborn Orapa. However, we have an issue of yellow card for Cooper who will miss the derby game but will be available for the final, “Pheto said.
Efforts by Patriot Sport to reach Orapa United camp proved futile. Rollers will be out to win a third top 8 title after winning it twice during 2012 and 2018 seasons while Orapa also looks to win its second top 8 title after beating Rollers to win the 2016 edition.