Battle for P1.4m bursts into life

Priced possession: The new Mascom Top 8 trophy which comes with cash prize money of P1.4 million
Priced possession: The new Mascom Top 8 trophy which comes with cash prize money of P1.4 million

The ninth edition of the Mascom Top 8 kicks off tonight, with one of the eight teams guaranteed to be the first to lift the new trophy, which goes with an improved prize money of P1.4 million.

Earlier this month, Mascom Wireless announced that the prize money would increase by P100, 000 from last year’s P1.3 million to P1.4 million, making it the highest cash prize in local football.  The man of the match prize has also been increased to P5,000 from last season’s P4,000 while the player of the tournament will pocket P50,000, an increase of P5,000 from last season’s P45,000.

Orapa United and Security Systems will get the ball rolling at the Itekeng Stadium in the first quarterfinal. Ostriches’ head coach, Mogomotsi Mpote is aiming to become the first local coach to lift the trophy.

The Ostriches are unbeaten in the last five games while they have only lost once in nine games in the league campaign. They have done fairly well thus far in front of goal as they scored 16 goals while conceding seven.  After missing last season’s final, United will be hoping to have the best start to this year’s edition. However, they face Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare’s high riding Systems. Currently leading the log, Systems are unbeaten and prove to be as good as they are in attack and in defence.

They have scored the third highest goals thus far with 17 while conceding just four. Earlier this season, the two sides played to a goalless draw in the league.

Tomorrow afternoon, Township Rollers play Molepolole City Stars at the Molepolole Sports Complex. Rollers are gunning for their third title and will have all to fight for after missing last year’s final.  Popa have proven to be a real threat in front of goal with 21 goals and on-form attacker Lemponye Tshireletso will be eager to continue his scoring run. He has scored in every game in the last five fixtures since returning from injury as he set his eyes on Stars. The Residents look like lambs to the slaughter as their recent form sends worrying signs. They have not won since September while they lost three of their last five games. The team has scored only six times this season with a leaky defence that has conceded 14 goals.  On Sunday, two cup winning coaches will meet at the Galaxy Stadium in Jwaneng. Holders Jwaneng Galaxy will face Gaborone United (GU). Both coaches Nikola Kavazovic and Miguel da Costa have won the trophy once, both on their first attempt while both teams are chasing a record of winning the title three times.

The two teams met just a fortnight ago at the same venue with Galaxy walking away 3-1 victors. The home side are unbeaten in the last five games while GU have only won once in five encounters.

The last of the four quarterfinals will be on Monday evening as disciplined forces clash. The BDF XI and Police XI clash is not expected to attract a large crowd. However, Police XI will hope to break the cup hoodoo. The Jungle Kings have not gone past the quarterfinal stage in the competition and will hope to reach their first semifinal. The team’s run has not been impressive with just two points in the last five league games.

Matebele on the other hand, hope to achieve the 2014 feat when they lifted the trophy. The team has had a rather mixed season but proved too hard a nut to crack. It will be a battle of Mike Sithole’s direct play and Nelson Setshwane’s compact approach.  The afternoon games will kick-off at 4pm while the evening matches start at 8pm.

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