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Palapye, Francistown sides clash in FA Cup

KOKETSO KGOBOGE
Favourites: Calender Stars face lowly FC Palapye PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
PALAPYE: The Orange FA Cup round one pits a Palapye and Francistown double-header in Pilikwe on Saturday.

Motlakase Power Dynamos will trade punches with their usual nemesis, TAFIC and last year’s champions of Tswapong Region Division One league FC Palapye are up against Calendar Stars.

The playing ground is not level as the hosts are overwhelming underdogs due to their occupying position in the lower leagues. FC Palapye, are a division lower than their opponents, Stars and they will curtain raise for the TAFIC/ Motlakase tie.

The duo never crossed paths and would be opening a new chapter. Stars are a relatively stronger side and they have maintained their status in the First Division since their debut three seasons ago.  It has not been an easy ride for Stars, but they have set themselves as a mid-table club in the rougher First Division North.

Their exploits have continued in the current campaign, and with one match to the end of the first round.

They are chasing a top four finish at position five in the log. They are bouncing from a crucial 1-1 away draw to leaders Sua Flamingoes in the past weekend.

A little could be said about their exploits in the FA Cup after they suffered a first-round crush to Kanzungula last season. They lost by 2-1 away to the Nhabe Division one side.

It will be a tougher challenge for FC Palapye that will be taking a bow in the FA Cup. By nature, underdogs have proven to be the dynamites in the country’s premier knockout competition and therefore, FC Palapye cannot be underestimated.

The Reds have dominated the previous campaign of the Tswapong Regional football Association league from the sixth game until they were crowned champions.

The defending champions have picked up where they left last season. They took the lead after week four and are three points ahead of their chasers with a game in hand. Like their opponents, they are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw in the

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league against stubborn Lecha Flamingoes.

Coach, Dindi Rantlhoka said their intention last season was to qualify for the Orange FA Cup and test their mettle against the big guns. He said the players had reached their goal and are ready to battle and leave a lasting mark.

“The moment has arrived. I believe I have players (who are) good enough to stand their own. Our strength is the technique and energy. My boys are youthful, they are pleasant in the game and are prepared to battle,” he said.

In the second encounter of the Pilikwe festival, Chouka and Matjimenyenga are set to reignite their old rivalry. The rivalry between the two was born in the last decade in the lower first division league. Chouka and Matjimenyenga have produced meetings that are never short of sparks.

The difference is that Matjimenyenga are a division above the ‘Palapians’. Chouka enter the fray as the underdogs but both coaches believe that would be just a label that cannot determine the outcome. They believe the grass will suffer when they meet.

“It’s a rivalry that everyone has enjoyed in the past and we still believe Motlakase remain a big team in their own right. We cannot undermine them because of their status right now. We are ready, and we wish to advance further in this cup,” TAFIC assistant coach, Shine Maleke said.

Chouka coach, Mothusi Seditse feels it is time to redeem themselves. He said TAFIC was motivation on its own for his side. Like Maleke, Seditse said their eyes are set far in the finals of the Cup.

“We have our problems, but we are getting back to our best. Players have accepted our situation. This week morale has been high.

We are excited to play TAFIC; they beat us against the run of play when they gained promotion and we take it that they owe us,” Seditse said.



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