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Zapata in emotional return as Top 8 heats up

KABELO BORANABI
Makhwengwe PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Township Rollers’ Rodolfo Zapata will come up against Gaborone United (GU) as the two teams face off on Sunday.

This will be first time the Argentine sits on the opposite end of the Reds’ dug out, and coincidentally, he will be sitting on one of GU’s fierce rivals’ bench.

This will be Zapata’s second game in charge of the Blues and he would be hoping he would be the difference.  The two teams are the undisputed cup kings, with 16 knockout competition titles between them.  They have the same number of knockout trophies (eight), with two apiece, being the Mascom Top 8 cup. 

Popa are a rather shaky side under the new gaffer as they are yet to gel, with Zapata trying to instill his style.  To make matters worse, Rollers lost reliable centre half, Simisane Mathumo to Absa Premiership side, Free State Stars.

Zapata will have to turn to the pair of Ofentse Nato and Obuile Ncenga to fill the void. Kaone Van Der Westhuizen is also in contention.

Rollers’ defence is leaky this season, after conceding four goals in two games. As the team goes in search of goals in their home game, they will turn to Kamogelo Matsabu and Joel Mogorosi who lead cup and league scoring charts with two and nine goals respectively.

On the other end, Philimon Makhwengwe has a point to prove. He remains the only local coach in the competition. Makhwengwe won the Top 8 competition with the Reds and he will be hoping to impress the team’s top brass with yet another title.  The Reds have been boosted by the arrival of Thatayaone Kgamanyane and veteran striker,

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Jerome Ramatlhakwana to shore up a frontline that has been the weakest link thus far.

The pair provides Makhwengwe with options with Zambian striker, Patrick Kabamba in good form after notching three goals in two games since the start of the year.  In the other semi-final, Jwaneng Galaxy welcome BDF XI at the Galaxy Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  Galaxy’s coach, Miguel da Costa is hoping for his first cup final with the team but is worried by the threat poised by his opponents.  “Cup games are completely different from the (league) championship and they are played on a home and away basis.

“These are going to be very tough games for us against BDF XI. The team that is going to commit less errors will be the team that will go through. Like I said they are a very tough side to beat,” he said.

Galaxy are unbeaten in the last five games with marksmen, Patrick Kaunda and Thero Setsile in good form with 15 goals between them.

BDF XI, on the other hand, have had technical reshuffle with Louis Setshwane and Letang Kgengwenyane taking over the reigns as head coach, Anderson Phiri was given an extended leave until next month. 

The changes have brought stability at the troubled army camp. Matebele are boosted by the arrival of former GU defender, Thabiso Khunwane on a two-year deal while Moatlhodi Ralesotla is expected to lead on the day.

With seven goals to his name this season; the striker is surely a man to watch out.



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