FRANCISTOWN: Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare’s Extension Gunners arrive at the Itekeng Stadium high on confidence but aware of Orapa United’s intimidating record in their backyard. Kick off is 7pm.
Mapantsula, enjoy a purple patch at the summit of the table, but will be quickly reminded that it was at a similar stage and fixture last season that their flying campaign began to falter. The Peleng giants never recovered and will be more cautious to avoid a similar fate this time around.
The Ostriches are three points below Gunners on nine points in position three. The two teams have faced each other on eight occasions since United were promoted to the elite league in 2013/2014 and Gunners are yet to taste victory. United have won four, drew two, scored nine and conceded two against their imminent opponents.
However, a meeting between the two coaches, Nare and Orapa’s Madinda Ndlovu has in the past two outings seen a cautious, tactical game ugly to the eye.
But both sides have quick attacking players and if they want, both coaches, can open the game.
In their last encounter, it took the Ostriches an extra time to finish off Mapantsula after a 1-1 stand off in a Mascom Top 8 quarter-final of last season.
United have drawn three consecutive encounters and their conversion of the many chances they create is worrisome, however not for their coach Ndlovu. He said games are different and anything can happen but they are prepared.
“Draws do not worry me, it’s part of the game,” he said.
“We have met Gunners under Chicco and they were a closed team but it is different. We have a different set of players, days are also different and we can’t predict the game. We want to try and maintain a good run at home for our supporters.”
Mapantsula had a rest last weekend and had all the time to prepare for the encounter. In their last game, they beat Miscellaneous 2-1 at home.
Nare will seek one or two lessons from neighbours’ Gilport Lions for a formula that unlocks the Ostriches at the Itekeng fortress. Lions were the last side to win in the diamond-mining town in August 2014 and repeated the feat last season.
Nare who has shown respect for United and Madinda said he is expecting another close contest against his Friday evening opponent.
He said his side has no excuses coming into the fixture.
“We have prepared and the entire camp is ready,” he said. “This is a game like no other, we know what to expect, Orapa (United) boast of a tough squad on paper, they have a shrewd coach who is very tactical and therefore we are expecting a tactical war and we are ready for the game.”