Depth has kept Rollers’ season ticking

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While Orapa United use their homeground advantage very well, Rollers have the arsenal; at least on paper to break the hosts’ unbeaten home run.

Rollers main strength has been their depth in every department.  They have the best strike rate in the league so far with 36 goals already scored in 14 games. 

Their opponents, Orapa United have scored a total of 22 goals.  With their leading goal scorer, Segolame Boy out with injury, expectations were that they would struggle to score goals for fun as they have been doing.

Boy scored 10 league goals before he got injured in the Mascom Top 8 game against Police XI.

Twenty-six other goals came from different players with the likes of Jerome Ramatlhakwana, Joel Mogorosi, Carl Finnigan and others having contributed. However, they have proved they are not reliant on one player for goals. 

The quality of their squad was evident again last Saturday when they trounced Green Lovers 6-1 in Boy’s absence. 

Koko, who has been sitting on the bench for the better part of the first round, stepped in Boy’s absence and took charge without failure. Defender, Mogogi Gabonamong was rested against Green Lovers and Oscar Ncenga who has been on the sidelines was given a run. 

Besides Boy, Rollers will be without Galagwe Moyana who is also nursing injury, but Kobamelo Kebaikanye is back in the team and is expected to use his speed to test Orapa defence.

 Another Rollers’ strength this season has been their defence.  They have conceded the least number of goals (8). Orapa United also look solid defensively having let in just nine goals so far. While coach, Mark Harrison has repeatedly changed his team in the attack, his defence has remained unchanged for quite sometime except for the left back position.

Kaone van der Westhuizen has however remained the number one choice except at the time when he was injured. Gabonamong and Simisane Mathumo have also been enjoying good partnership at the heart of the defence.  However, the unsung hero in Rollers’ unbeaten run has been none other than Tshepo ‘Talk Talk’ Motlhabankwe at right back.

Motlhabankwe, despite not getting accolades, has been arguably the most consistent player in the Rollers team this season.

He has not only been solid defensively, but has provided many crucial assists for Rollers both in the Mascom Top 8 and the league. He seems to be in good shape both physically and mentally. He has since relegated national team player, Obonye Moswate to the sidelines.

Interestingly, last season this time Rollers were perched at the summit of the log standings with the same number of points as today (36) after 14 games.

They had also won 11 matches, drew three and lost none, scored 36 goals, conceded eight goals as is the case now. At the time, Chiefs were second on the log with 30 points.  Orapa United were sitting at position eight at the time; 12 points behind log leaders. 

They had met once in the first round with Rollers, and received a 6-1 mauling before they recovered in the middle of the first round to go on to beat Rollers 2-0 in the second round in Orapa.

Mark Harrison’s views: “We are working very hard to prepare for this game just like any other match. We know it is going to be a difficult game because they are physically strong. They are also a hard working team and the pitch might not be conducive because of its bumpy surface, but we are ready for the game. Some of my players are injured, but we have a very good squad. I expect everyone in the squad to step up given a chance.”

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