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Mascom Top 8: The contestants: The blue corner

KABELO BORANABI
Midfield dynamo: Cooper is key for Rollers PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Despite a recent Township Rollers hobble, it would be dangerous for Orapa United to underestimate the Blues. Rollers are capable of rising to the occasion, and are aware that they approach the final as underdogs, a tag rarely attached to a side that has dominated the local scene in the last decade. Mmegi Sport Correspondent, KABELO BORANABI peeps into the blue corner ahead of what should be a thrill-a-minute final

Player to watch

Mothusi Cooper has been the engineer in the middle of the park for the Blues. Cooper enjoys the deep lying playmaker role, just ahead of a holding midfielder. He has an impressive interception rate, has good vision, great strength and control of the ball. The 22-year-old might not be the quickest player on the pitch but has shown a little bit trickiness when on the ball. You can always watch out for those long-range strikes from the young midfielder.

Tactical approach

Frank Nuttall, the Scot, finds himself at the deep end in what would be his ninth game in charge of the Blues. Three defeats since his arrival has brought some pressure from the hard to please Popa faithful. Nuttall boasts a lucrative CV having worked with some of the continent’s best clubs including Zamalek of Egypt. He is expected to dish the sweetest pot in local, guiding Rollers to their third cup triumph in a sixth final appearance.

At Rollers he has an abundance of attacking talent in the squad. He has preferred a modern 4-3-3 formation thus far. Nuttall opts for speedy wingers, who tuck inside giving full backs freedom to exploit the wing lines.

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One holding midfielder, playing alongside two creative midfielders, feeding the usually lone striker, protect his back line. His style varies between a direct and possession play. His transition has been much quicker from the midfield, two-one touches then a final third ball. He, however, never had a full squad to work with since his arrival with injuries and suspensions, thus making it hard to really judge the Scot’s impact at the Blues.

Strengths and weaknesses

There is abundance of quality in the Rollers’ ranks, making it easier for any coach to work with. The team is blessed with a mixture of talent and experience and the club’s winning DNA has been infused into the junior players. However, Rollers have shown that they do not perform well when they are pressed hard. Popa enjoy domination on the ball, but whenever the opposition takes that from them they become a shadow of their former themselves. Psychologically, players are used to winning hence temperamental moments arise when they are pushed against the wall.

Rollers probable line-up

Kabelo Dambe - Kamohelo Matsabu, Simisane Mathumo, Anorld Mampori, Onkarabile Ratanang - Ofentse Nato, Segolame Boy, Mothusi Cooper - Tlhalefo Molebatsi, Edwin Moalosi, Tumisang Orebonye.



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