Orapa United ended Township Rollers’ 22-game unbeaten streak in the league with a 2-1 win in a BTC Premiership encounter played at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win serves as sweet revenge for the Ostriches’ coach Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote who was relieved from his duties as Rollers’ assistant after a fallout with former head coach, Nikola Kavazovic.
Mpote plotted sweet vengeance against his former side who had gone 22 games unbeaten in the league, stretching from last season. Popa’s last defeat was back in February, a 3-1 loss to BDF XI.
The tactician did not mince his words after the game as he took a dig at his former side.
“Teenage is a better coach than Township Rollers coaches. I am a better coach because the boys believe in me and I believe in them.
“Winning against Rollers is just like winning against (bottom placed) Sankoyo Bush Bucks.
They are just like any other team. I knew they would come so I prepared my boys well, they normally score after the 60th minutes so we were prepared for that,” he said.
In the first chance of the encounter, Lemponye Tshireletso pounced on a loose ball in the middle of the park. He raced for a goal, but his shot went wide. But the visitors started finding their rhythm in the game, in the 20th-minute as Gofaone Mabaya had his “warning”shot parried over the bar by Wagarre Dikago. Seven minutes later, the visitors caught Popa on a counterattack, but Mabaya had his shot parried back into play.
Onkemetse Powe slotted home from the rebound to give his side the lead. Popa tried to level matters before half-time, but failed to break the Ostriches’ defence.
And just before then (half-time), Simisane Mathumo thought he had pulled level, but his shot from close angle was ruled offside as the visitors took a 1-0 lead into the break.
A minute into the second half, Tumisang Orebonye received a long ball from the back from inside the box.
He went for a shot, but it went wide. A minute later the striker again failed to convert after the goalkeeper was beaten, but had his shot blocked by Kelapile Ndlovu. Popa eventually levelled matters
The defence blocked Orebonye’s initial attempt, as the ball fell unto Joel Mogorosi who beat the goalkeeper to the far bottom corner with his eighth of the campaign.
The goal injected fresh energy into the Rollers team. Mogorosi came close three minutes later, but his shot went over the bar. In the 65th-minute, another Rollers chance went begging.
Segolame Boy broke away with pace on the right wing, put in a cross for Orebonye, but the striker could not direct it for a goal.
Against the run of play, the visitors regained the lead on the 72nd minute.
Lemogang Maswena tucked home from close as his side capitalised from some shaky defending by Rollers. Five minutes later, Kago Monyake delivered a corner kick. Thatayaone Ditlhokwe hit the cross bar with a free header . In the 81st minute, Mogorosi could not direct his header from Jackson Lesole’s cross between the goal posts as it went wide. On additional time Kobamelo Kebaikanye pulled a brilliant save from Dikago as his shot from a tight angle was parried for a corner. Popa last beat the Ostriches in 2016-2017 and was then under the tutelage of Mpote who served as an interim coach. The Ostriches went level with Rollers on 32 points each.
“I’m very disappointed in the team losing to a rival side. But we should take positives from this game and move forward. “We were wasteful in the attack, Orapa did not create many chances. They scored the ones they had,” Rollers’ interim coach, Thabo Motang said after the game.
Rollers: Dikago, Lesole, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Mathumo, Ditlhokwe, Maano Ditshupo, Mothusi Cooper, Tshireletso (Monyake), Boy, Mogorosi, Orebonye (Bogosi Nfila)
Orapa: Kaelo Joseph, Kealeboga Molebatsi, Olekantse Mambo, Mooketsi Hlabano, Michael Johnson, Ndlovu, Tapiwa Nyamanjiva, Mabaya, Maswena (Kebaikanye), Powe, Jerome Ramatlhakawa (Molaodi Tlhalefang), Tlhalefang (Baboloki Makhura)
Cautions: Mathumo, Cooper, Ramatlhakwana, Mambo, Ndlovu, Maswena, Molebatsi
Rollers 1 (Mogorosi 60th)
Orapa 2 (Powe 27th, Maswena 72nd)