Defending champions, BDF XI face a daunting task tonight as they seek to reverse a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Township Rollers in the second leg of the Mascom Top 8 semi final.
The two giants clash at the National Stadium at 8pm in what is expected to be a highly contested match. BDF XI allowed Rollers to score two away goals and therefore will be forced to score at least two goals or face exit from the competition.
BDF XI coach, Letang Kgwengwenyane has made it clear that they want to defend the title.
In the first leg, Rollers took the lead through Jerome Ramatlhakwana after good work by Segolame Boy. BDF XI equalised in the second half through midfielder, Bonolo Phuduhudu, but Boy scored the winner and handed Rollers a 2-1 lead going into the second leg.
Boy is the top scorer with four goals, but has to pass a late fitness test for tonight’s match.
If he fails to recover, Rollers will look to Dirang Moloi, Motsholetsi Sikele and Kobamelo Kebaikanye to unlock BDF XI rearguard manned by captain, Mompati Thuma and Moreetsi Mosimanyana.
BDF XI on the other hand are expected to take the match to Rollers and will rely on Phuduhudu’s aggression in the midfield as well as Lesego Lubinda and Kabelo Seakanyeng’s speed on the wings.
In the first leg, Master Masitara gave Rollers defence a headache the entire game. It will be interesting to see what plan they have for him this time around.
An interesting duel between two experienced stars, BDF XI’s Thuma and Rollers’ striker, Ramatlhakwana is on the cards. Kgwengweyane said his captain is an influential figure in the team.
He said with his experience and passion, Thuma not only does the footwork, but also motivates fellow teammates and will once again be key in tonight’s clash.
Kgengwenyane went on to say that they are ready and know that they can reverse the score and progress to the final.
He said they would want to avoid conceding as that could put the game beyond their reach. Ramatlhakwana on the other hand also relishes the clash and expects a tough duel between the two sides.
He said he expects BDF XI to bring the game to them.
“It is going to be a tough game. We will have problems if we can think too much about the result of the first leg.
“We are an open book to them and they are also an open book to us. We know their weaknesses and they know ours too, so whoever is going to concentrate more will be victorious on the day,” he said.
The crucial battle: Mompati Thuma (defender) vs Jerome Ramatlhakwana (striker)
Strengths: Thuma is an experienced defender whose contribution to Botswana football as player is not in doubt. He reads his game well and hardly puts his foot on the wrong during tackles.
Weaknesses: He sometimes struggles against players with a high take-off and pacey.
Strengths: He is a proven goal scorer and has an amazing work rate. He is strong on the ball and knows how to pick blind spots.
Weaknesses: At times, he is let down by his first touch.
Why Rollers need it:
Rollers initially looked to be on course to win a double this season ,but have now reached turbulence.
They have surrendered the lead at the top of the Premier League table and the Mascom Top 8 now looks like a much more achievable dream. Coach, Madinda Ndlovu would want to win the only silverware to elude him.
Why BDF XI need it most:
Like Rollers, BDF XI in the league have not been consistent recently.
They will need Mascom Top 8 title to rescue their season.
BDF XI won the title last season with Elijah Chikwanda as the head coach. However, many have given current coach, Letang Kgengwenyane credit for laying the foundation that Chikwanda took to another level. If BDF XI progress to the next stage, it becomes Kgengwenyane’s chance to finally enjoy the fruits of his labour from the seeds he sowed.