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Mandaza's boots prove too big to fill

Setting the bar high: Mandaza was one of the Rollers' best imports PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Township Rollers has traditionally attracted good players from abroad.

The undisputed domestic kings are able to sign-up, whether from a local or international team, the best foreign talent can offer. The list includes an impeccable Lawrence Majawa, who stayed at Popa close to a decade, and industrious Mohammed Chawila.

Zimbabwean hard man, Itayi Gwandu was marvellous in the heart of the defence while Ugandan, Ivan Ntenge acclaimed a cult hero status at the club during the CAF Champions League exploits two seasons back.

But The Blues have fallen behind when it comes to recruiting quality strikers. Zambian striker Joseph Chikoti, who terrorised local defenses in the late 1990s, was one of the best imports. '

Then entered a relatively unknown striker from Zimbabwe in Terrence Mandaza. The Harare-born forward had a stint at TASC before Popa snatched him ahead of rivals Gaborone United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

‘The Terror’ became a household name locally, as he scored 42 goals in 33 matches in the 2009-2010 season. He helped Popa to a double as the team won the league and Coca-Cola Cup before the player moved to now defunct Platinum Stars in South Africa.

Following Mandaza’s departure, Rollers roped in Mweuku Musonda from Chiefs and allocated him his predecessor’s number 19 jersey. The striker lasted just a season at The Blues, winning a league title in the process, but his 17-league goals were deemed too low for Rollers’ standards.

 Two seasons later, Namibian striker Jerome Louis arrived. After winning the top goal scorer award in two consecutive seasons in the Namibian Premier League, Louis ticked all the boxes to become Mandaza’s replacement.

The striker was also given the no.19 jersey, however, he was not a traditional number nine.

The Namibian was more of a second striker and his goal record proved that, much lower than his two predecessors, but work rate, much better.

The team was re-structured, following the club’s acquisition by Jagdish Shah in 2015. Rollers brought in unknown Englishman, Carl Finnigan. The striker had one stint in Africa at Chippa United in South

Africa, but did not last a full season.

He arrived at Popa from English Non-League side Gateshead FC. He arrived at Popa with much fanfare but only managed three goals in a season, and was shipped out.

Popa went to West Africa and brought in then 23-year-old Senegalese striker, Pape Adoulaye Ndaw. Standing at 1.97 metres tall, there were doubts over the striker upon his arrival. He did not play a key role in the squad and only managed three goals in all competitions in his stay at Popa.

After staying a few seasons without bringing a foreign striker, Rollers signed Ghanaian striker, Francis Afriyie in January. He penned a two-and-a-half-year deal. The striker caught the eyes of The Blues after scoring six goals in 11 league games in the Kenyan Premier League. From stints in Asia, Mexico, Kenya and his native Ghana, Afriyie was tipped to set the BTC Premiership alight.

Things did not turn out well for the striker on his debut.

He did not manage a shot on target in the 23 minutes played in a 3-1 win over BDF XI in a cup-tie. After failing to make the match day, squad on two occasions, Afriyie was named on the bench against Prisons XI in February.

The 25-year-old striker made headlines for the wrong reasons when he stormed out of the stadium after an altercation with then head coach, Frank Nuttall after he was not brought on.

He walked away, barefooted, even before the match had ended and snubbed the team’s post match talk.

After the incident, he appeared just once in Popa colours, in a Mascom Top 8 final against Orapa United in March.

The striker recently parted ways with Rollers after failing to open his account for the team. The Ghanaian is the latest striker to fail to fill what are proving to be big boots left by Mandaza.




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