Rollers on the verge of history

Unbridled joy: Township Rollers fought allegedly against Al Merreikh to proceed to the next round PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Township Rollers are in the process of crafting a beautiful football story as they stand just 180 minutes from reaching a historic CAF Champions League group stage, which would be the first ever for a Botswana side.

Dismissed as no-hopers after drawing feared Sudanese side, Al Merreikh in the first round,  Rollers took full advantage of their underdog tag as they quietly slipped into the next stage.

Rollers have never gone beyond the first round of a CAF club competition, but immaculately went about business to break the shackles. The ‘Blue Nation’ was so dominant in the first leg at the National Stadium, against a side ranked fifth in Africa, storming to a 3-0 victory.

Still their doubters dismissed them, arguing an intimidating atmosphere and a more testing Al Merreikh, lie in wait in Sudan.

But Rollers proved they have come of age with what has been described as a mature display, thousands of kilometres away from their Gaborone base.

Despite going down 2-1 on Wednesday, their first leg advantage pushed them closer to the lucrative group stages where at least $55,000 (P550,000) is guaranteed.

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) will get five percent equivalent of what Rollers will receive as prize money if the Botswana champions progress to the group stages.

In between Rollers and at least half a million pula cash prize money, lies a seasoned campaigner in Young Africans of Tanzania.

The team, known as Yanga,

have proven over the years that they are a hard nut to crack, although they have not been incisive enough to consistently make the group stages.

In fact, they have only made the group stages once in 11 Champions League appearances.

Two seasons ago, they also reached the last eight of the CAF Confederations Cup, and still carry enough threat to Rollers’ dream of reaching the group stages.

With Rollers dominant in the local league, their hunger might be on the wane at home, which explains why they should drive further forward in the Champions League.

With 14 domestic league titles and the tag of being Botswana’s most successful team, Rollers would feel emboldened enough to challenge the best in Africa.

Backed by wealthy businessman, Jagdish Shah, Rollers are at their best in terms of playing personnel and financial resources.

And they appear ready to grab the opportunity to shine with both hands as evidenced by the  unequivocal statement of intent which has been served on Al Merreikh and the rest of the competitors in the Champions League.

A place in the group stages would be a giant leap for a club that is the envy of many local fans.




I have won dammit!

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