Township Rollers hammered visiting Al Merreikh of Sudan 3-0 in the first leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary round match played at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues asked questions early into the game down the left flank with Lemponye Tshireletso and Edwin Olerile getting the better of the opponents’ full back, but their crosses failed to connect with Joel Mogorosi.
The home side continued to dominate the proceedings that afternoon as the Red Devils sat back, looking for an opportunity to counterattack.
Mogorosi hit the cross bar with a header, but he was already adjudged to have been offside by the assistant referee in the 20th minute.
After piling pressure on the visitors for most of the first half, Popa broke the deadlock in the 28th minute with Mosha Gaolaolwe heading home Edwin Moalosi’s free kick from close range.
The visitors got their first shot on target in the 35th minute with Ahmed Ahmed trying Keeagile Kgosipula from set piece, but the young goal minder parried for a corner.
Rollers doubled the lead with a minute left to the break. Tshireletso squeezed in a pass inside the box to Moalosi who beat the keeper to the bottom far post to send Popa supporters into wild celebrations in what was the last action of the half.
Ten minutes into the second half, Rollers appeared to have reduced the tempo of their play whilst the visitors looked threatening in the final third with their quick short passes.
In the 57th minute, Mogorosi squandered a chance to extend the lead as he shot straight into the goalkeeper’s hands inside the box.
Just a minute after coming on for Motsholetsi Sikele, Segolame Boy extended
Four minutes later, Tshireletso missed a sitter as he shot straight into the keeper’s hands inside the box after Moalosi found him with a pinpoint cross.
The Red Devils resorted to possession football in the last minutes of the game as they avoided conceding more goals as Popa took a comfortable three-goal lead into the second leg to be played in Sudan in a fortnight.
Speaking to journalists after the game, Roller’s coach Nikola Kavazovic felt his troops played down to instructions and praised them for being tactically disciplined on the afternoon.
“We must be happy with the result today. The players showed great tactical discipline, we played and we got what we wanted from the game,” he said. A post match comment could not be obtained from the visitors’ bench as the head coach rushed into the dressing room after the game.
Rollers: Keeagile Kgosipula, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Simisane Mathumo, Edwin Olerile, Ivan Ntenge, Maano Ditshupo, Edwin Moalosi, Motsholetsi Sikele (Segolame Boy), Lemponye Tshireletso (Tsepo Matete), Joel Mogorosi (Mthokosizi Msomi)
Al Merreikh: Monged Salman, Dhiya Musa, Mohamed Idris, Ahmed Ahmed (Ibrahim Salih), Keita Bili (Asir Gabir), Ahmed Mahmoud (Khalid Eltayeb), Mohamed Hagar Ali, Tajeldin Badawi, Khaled Taha, Ahmed Adam, Hamad Hassan
Cautions: Olerile, Bili