There were overwhelming concerns that the Gaborone derby was on a free fall, in fact, it was slowly being relegated into the ‘just another fixture’ pile. But on Sunday, Township Rollers and Gaborone United (GU) clash sprung back to life in stunning fashion, as Mmegi Sport Staff Writer, BOITUMELO KHUTSAFALO observed
Forget the 10-point gap between BTC Premiership log leaders, Township Rollers and city rivals, Gaborone United (GU), the recent clash between the two has left a lasting impression.
Apart from breathtaking moves and tactical displays on the day, the game also produced three great goals, which will remain in the minds of football supporters for a long time to come.
Prior to the match, not many were looking forward to the derby. In fact it has long been dismissed as an overrated and outdated derby, which has for many years failed to live up to expectations.
The fans used to talk about the times when current form mattered little when these teams met years ago. Those were the years when the likes of Tshepiso Sox Molwantwa appeared on the blue corner while Diphetogo Selolwane, before his move to the United States, stood on the red side.
For the past 10 years, football people always looked up to the Rollers versus Mochudi Centre Chiefs as the match that has taken over from the Rollers/GU derby. Chiefs, following their rise to stardom in 2006, were seen as closest rivals for Rollers in any competition.
The rivalry was fuelled by the fact that both sides did not only try and outdo each other on the field, but also wrestled each other on the transfer market because of their financial muscle. The rivalry grew bigger, more like a Barcelona/Real Madrid clashes widely known as El Classico. With Magosi now facing challenges both on and off the field, last Sunday’s display at the UB Stadium sent a timely reminder that perhaps the real Gaborone derby is back.
With both sides under the tutelage of mentors from overseas, in Nikola Kavazovic and Rodolfo Zapata, it was always going to be a highly tactical game. Zapata has never shied away from the fact that he wants his team to play an attractive, short passing game.
At some point some GU fans ran out of patience with results not coming despite playing attractive football. Kavazovic despite being new in Rollers’ camp
But on Sunday, the best of Botswana football was on display. Rollers’ tricky attacker, Edwin Moalosi started a brilliant move from the middle of the park and exchanged a pass with Mthokozisi Msomi who laid it back to him. Moalosi without thinking twice, struck a powerful grass cutter leaving GU goalkeeper, Goitseone Phoko sprawled on the turf.
Just after halftime, the UB Stadium witnessed another cracker as GU levelled matters. A move was initiated from the left and Tumisang Orebonye intelligently moved to the blind spot on the far corner.
The ball came to him and he struck it first time with a brilliant technique, reminding Kabelo Dambe of what happened to him three weeks back in Lobatse against Omaatla Kebatho. With those two brilliant strikes, it was clear that nobody regretted parting ways with cash to watch the derby.
Little did anyone anticipate dramatic but an interesting end to the match. With the clock ticking at 90th minute, just when the fourth official was about to signal three additional minutes of stoppage time, Thatayaone Kgamanyane struck GU’s second goal.
At that time most Rollers fans had conceded that they were about to taste their first defeat of the season and were beginning to find their way out of the stadium. But barely two minutes later, Moalosi came from nowhere and Phoko had no answer once again.
In the end, Rollers supporters left the stadium happy, not because they won anything but because they rescued a point at the death when no one had belief. GU supporters, on the other hand, left a little bit disappointed that they had it right at the end but then immediately gave it away. However, eventually both camps’ supporters and other spectators were convinced that despite the bumpy pitch, they got their money’s worth and that the real derby could be back for good. Even Rollers’ coach, Kavazovic admitted that it was his side’s toughest match of the season so far.