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Highlanders face tough exam in derby

Highlanders have stuttered but are still favorites for the title PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
PALAPYE: First Division North log leaders, BR Highlanders face a tricky encounter against cross-town rivals, Mahalapye United Hotspurs who could throw spanners in the works. Highlanders saw their lead slashed from nine to six points following a shock 1-0 loss to Real Movers.

The leaders have collected just one point from two games after the Movers’ defeat and a draw against Nico United. 

They do well against top sides, but have struggled against teams on the lower side of the log. Hotspurs, who are blowing hot and cold will provide a stern test to Highlanders’ credentials. Highlanders edged Amahot 1-0 in the first round fixture.

Like their village rivals, Amahot also managed a point in the past two games, with a draw against Maphatshwa and a defeat to Nico.

Amahot are however confident of a positive result against their rivals. Their young coach Wame ‘Pepe’ Mokoke said his players are excited ahead of the clash.

He said  he has five experienced players who played for Highlanders and are leading their preparations.

“It was unceremonial when these guys left Highlanders and according to their work rate in training, they clearly will not take a defeat in this encounter,” Pepe said.

He said Highlanders are showing signs of cracking and have identified their weakness in defence and look to exploit it.

“We know everything about them, we live with them, and we know their secrets. The past two games have really affected them and they are easy to beat.”

“They are a defensive side, they score only

one goal and they hold back but we saw their defence crack so many times. We are confident ahead of this game and we are sure it is going to be exciting.”

His counterpart at Highlanders, Kabo Dintwa acknowledged the encounter has all the ingredients of a fierce tie and said they will not look at their rivals as underdogs. He admitted his former players could cause damage. He said his players are still reeling from a shock defeat and that was caused by lack of level-headedness. “They have a number of our former players and that is a threat. We know all of them have great potential and they have a lot to prove,” Dintwa said.

“We are prepared for the derby. We slipped in the past two games because our players were casual. They thought with nine points clear we have the league in the bag, but we have worked on their mental strength; they understand now that it is far from over.”

In other games, chasers Motlakase are away at Calendar Stars, Green Lovers welcome GNT, Flamingoes travel to Real Movers and Nico host Francistown City Greens. Maphatshwa are home to Morupule Wanderers. All games will be played on Saturday at 4pm.


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