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Rollers have mountain to climb in Lesotho

KABELO BORANABI
Township Rollers started their CAF Champions League campaign on a low note after playing to a 1-1 draw against minnows, Bantu FC in the first leg of the preliminary round of the competition.

Now Rollers need to produce a special performance in the mountainous kingdom in the return leg next week.

In a game played on Tuesday under floodlights at the Lobatse Sports Complex, Rollers faced the Lesotho side that has never gone beyond the first round stage while Popa are emerging from their most successful CAF campaign after making it in to the group stages of the competition last season. In the process, they became the first local side to achieve the feat.

However on the pitch, the visitors had more chances at the goal, especially in the first half with Lavola Jakobokwana and Litshepe Marape giving the Blues' defence a hard time. 

The latter came closest on the half-hour mark, after he outwitted his marker, but was denied by the keeper, who hurried off his line to grab the ball at the attacker's feet.  Rollers gained momentum in the second period and it paid off on the 58th minute when Thatayaone Ditlhokwe rose highest to nod home a corner kick to give his side the lead.  Three minutes later, Marape gave his side an important away goal.  The former Uniao Flamengo Santos attacker beat Wagarre Dikago with a hard hit shot to the bottom corner to level the scores  much to the delight of hundreds of the A Mats'o Matebele travelling fans.

Speaking to journalists after the game, Rollers' interim coach Thabo Motang was disappointed with his side's display but remained

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confident they will overturn the result in the second leg.

"Well, yes it's a disappointing result but we have to be strong enough because at least we have a chance to redeem ourselves. They are a strong team but they are a beatable, we can still come back and redeem our selves.  They played so much defensively with too many aimless clearances but I know in Lesotho they will try to come out and attack, so we will be looking to capitalise on that," he said. 

His counterpart, James Madidilane was pleased with the score and warned that his side would come all out in the second leg. 

"I would say that our game plan worked very well because we got an away goal and played to a draw, so is it okay for us.  We wanted to come here and get something, so in the second leg things are going to change.  Today my offensive players, my midfielders worked more on defending, but when we get home we are not going to sit back.  We have to take the game to Township Rollers, our game plan will completely change,” he said.

The two sides will face off in the second leg on Tuesday at the Leshoboro Seeiso Sports Complex in Mafeteng. The winner of the two-legged tie will face AS Vita of Congo in the second round.



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