After eight months, competitive football returns this weekend as Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United begin their continental club assignments.
Galaxy will debut in the CAF Champions League as they welcome USD Zilimadjou of Comoros for the first leg of the preliminary round to be played at the Lobatse Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Orapa host Ugandan club, AS Kigali in the first leg of the CAF Confederations Cup at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Fans will have to watch from home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations, which bar supporters from the stadium.
“Football is played for the fans. It is supposed to be enjoyed, it is entertainment. It is a sad reality to play without fans, but equally our opponents will also be without fans,” Galaxy’s coach, Lesika ‘Six’ Keatlholetswe told Mmegi Sport. “We do not know much about the team, but I have seen the (Comoros) national team play Botswana. It is a game where we have to play to our strength and that is what we will do.”
Keatlholetswe has joined Galaxy on a one-year contract and would be returning to a local team dug out after eight years.
In his first stint in a continental competition, he led BDF XI to the second round of the competition in the late 1980s.
“I am glad to be back, I have been in the same position before. I am just telling the players that we are in a position where the rest of the players around the world are in, so we should let it go to our heads and do a good job on Saturday,” he said.
The coach confirmed that the newly signed Ivorian duo, Yali Sangare and Sede Junior Dion, alongside former Orlando Pirates development captain, Ricardo Torres Lourenco are not up for selection.
Galaxy face three-time Comoros league champions with a couple of CAF games appearance but had not gone beyond the second round stage. Kick off is 3pm. Meanwhile, Orapa United coach Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’
The former national team coach would look to make amends for the Ostriches after they bowed out in the preliminary round of the competition in their maiden campaign three years ago.
Mpote expressed confidence the current squad was capable of leading the Orapa side to the group stages of the competition.
Despite interest to bolster the squad, Mpote could not acquire new signings due to a delayed transfer window. The local transfer window opened this week.
Exposure to the international stage of the likes of Omaatla Kebatho, Kobamelo Kebaikanye, Gofaone Mabaya, Mothusi Johnson and Allen Ndodole amongst others would come handy for Mpote’s charges.
The coach expects Mabaya and Lawrence Ndunga to play a key role but the team would miss speedy winger Onkemetse Powe, who is nursing an ankle injury.
Ostriches returned to training about six weeks ago following the coronavirus-forced layoff. They played a series of friendly matches with sides from Boteti, as well as facing the national Under-20 team in Orapa.
Although it might not seem enough, the coach is not discouraged.
“We are back at paces. The boys are determined to achieve the mission we set before us. It has been six weeks of intense and tactical preparations, and there is enough confidence ahead of the game,” he said.
He added they did their homework on the background of their opponents.
“We have studied our opponents, and we know it would be critical to get a good result at home before we travel to Rwanda.”
Kigali had struggled in the Rwanda Premier League in the past season. They were at position six when the Rwandan league was stopped due to the pandemic outbreak back in March.
The Rwandans have also been busy in the transfer window, signing six players to beef up their squad.