Mochudi Centre Chiefs coach, Bongani Mafu has, in the eyes of the clubsí loyal fans, committed a cardinal sin. In his brief spell he has lost to Miscellaneous, saw stars against Jwaneng Galaxy and was bemused after a 2-1 loss to Sankoyo on Saturday, plunging Chiefs into an unfamiliar 11th position. Increasingly, Mafuís sins appear unforgivable. But Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE is convinced that can change in a flash tomorrow night if Mafu conquers sworn enemy, Township Rollers
It might appear bizarre that bitter rivals, Township Rollers could actively solve Mochudi Centre Chiefs coaching dilemma when the two clash in a high octane Botswana derby at the National Stadium tomorrow night.
A defeat would leave Mafu’s fate firmly in the hands of his employers, but a win over their fiercest opponents would purchase more and healthier breathing space for the under fire Zimbabwean coach. The equation is straight forward on paper but a mammoth task on the pitch. Since 2009, never has Chiefs headed to a clash against Rollers as the overwhelming underdogs.
Both sides have had contrasting fortunes in the new season, with Rollers enjoying a purple patch while Chiefs are limping after a ponderous start to the campaign. While Chiefs were succumbing to a shock 2-1 home loss to Sankoyo Bush Bucks on Saturday night, Rollers had spent the afternoon pawing a dead mouse in Green Lovers, plundering five goals in the process.
Rollers have suffered one defeat in seven matches while Chiefs have succumbed twice to minnows, Miscellaneous and Sankoyo.
Popa head into the 8pm fixture as staggering favourites, although past results count for nothing in Botswana’s biggest football fixture.
Rollers have not been at their fluid best but sent a timely and strong reminder with the shellacking of Lovers. Chiefs suddenly appear like the proverbial gentle lamb led to the slaughter.
The dazzling thought of Mogogi ‘Gino’ Gabonamong, Terrence ‘The Terror’ Mandaza, Lemponye ‘FC’ Tshireletso, Ntesang ‘Mirror’ Simanyana in full flow is too ghastly to contemplate for a largely inexperienced Chiefs. Rollers are a star-studded side capable of injecting enduring pain on opponents, with each and every squad member a potential match winner.
They ooze class in every department with a bench worthy a starting berth in any of the 15 BTC Premiership teams.
But rookies, Black Forest and lately, Security Systems provided Chiefs with a refreshing consolation that Rollers are far from invincible. Both debutants held the defending champions to stalemates while a strong BDF XI side are responsible for Rollers’ only defeat thus far.
Chiefs are no
While Chiefs have struggled to move into the second, third, fourth and ultimately the travelling gear, glimpses of class are always littered around.
Experienced soldier, Lesego ‘Big Lesh’ Galenamotlhale has almost single handedly carried the load since the off-season departure of other seasoned campaigners, Tshireletso, Tendai Nyumasi, Pontsho Moloi and Onalethata ‘OT’ Tshekiso. But as Mafu attempts to put a meandering campaign back on track, he might be tempted to unleash a player whose talent is undoubted. Dirang Moloi is one of the country’s finest players endowed with natural talent, but has been far too inconsistent as he can devastate and disappoint in equal measure.
Dirang started the season on fire, picking man-of-the-match gongs in the first two matches before injury struck. He is expected to pass a late fitness test.
Dirang is a player who can rescue Mafu’s career at Chiefs and Rollers will keep a close eye. Mafu’s future rests on the 11 men and the substitutes he will pick up for this make or break encounter as the coach seeks to prove that after all the hullabaloo, he is not a square peg in a round hole.
What Mafu said:
“It’s a big game in the context of the rivalry, the league and impact on supporters. We have to put up a quality display. If we lose, it will put us under a lot of pressure. Dirang Moloi is expected to undergo a fitness test otherwise all the players are available.”
What Mark Harrison said:
“We played last night (on Wednesday against Security Systems), there is not much to do between now and the match. We have a recovery session. It’s a high octane game and big derby. Galabgwe Moyana is a long-term injury absentee while Pap Ndaw is out of this game. Other than that everybody is fit. Form counts for nothing in such games.”
Club top scorers: Rollers:
Terrence Mandaza (6)
Chiefs: Stan Ngala (2)
Clean sheets: Rollers 1- Chiefs 1