SELEBI-PHIKWE: Gaborone United held their nerve to reach their second Mascom Top 8 final after seeing off a spirited Nico United 1-0 in the second semi final yesterday.
It was a lukewarm affair that started slowly, but produced fireworks in the second half, with Benson Shilongo scoring the goal which effectively killed in the contest in the 66th minute for an aggregate 3-1. Nico United fashioned an opportunity in the 15th minute when towering Zambian, Christopher Musonda came face-to-face with Goitseone Phoko, but the keeper managed to pluck from his feet with Nico furiously claiming a penalty as the ball bubbled around.
Nico assistant coach, Duncan Segofatso was dismissed for verbal abuse in the 40th minute as the home side bench was not happy with the officiating.
In a furious end to the half, the outstanding Phoko pushed Khumoetsile Kufigwa’s effort against the post as Nico ended the first half on the ascendancy. Phoko was, however, a surprise omission for the man of the match award, which went to Alphonse Modisaotsile. In the 57th minute, Onkabetse Makgantai proved why his stock is rising with a dinking run, which sent him past the GU defence before he speared his effort goal wards, but the talented Phoko flew to his right to complete the catch.
Shilongo produced the miss of the afternoon when he scuffed a cross in a front of an open goal in the 65th minute. But, the Namibian was back in business a minute later, latching on to a brilliantly threaded ball and extinguished Nico’s hopes with a curled effort.
From then, GU tightened the screws and took total control of the tie with substitutes, Mpho Kgaswane and Ronald Chikomo both agonizingly close. Phoko produced three stupendous saves in the dying minutes, first diving low to keep out a grass cutter, before he twice denied captain, Legwaila in a one on one situation. GU coach, Rahman Gumbo said he expected the win as he has never lost at the Selebi-Phikwe Stadium.
He said the plan was to let Nico attack before GU opened up in the second half. Nico coach, Wesley Mondo had harsh words for the referee. “The referee won the match,” that’s all he said. The GU victory sets-up a tantalising tie against arch rivals, Township Rollers on April 25.
Nico United: Edwin Mokibe, Onkabetse Seforo, Kagiso Tutuwe (Lucas Mothata), Taboka Daniel, Nelson Mooretsi (Malvern Moyo), Richard Legwaila, Chris Musonda, Onkabetse Makgantai, Khumoetsile Kufigwa (Samson Mogomotsi), Arnold Mampori, Otsile Batang
GU: Goitseone Phoko, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng, Ofentse Nato, Edwin Olerile, Alphonse Modisaotsile, Thabiso Khunwane, Benson Shilongo, Tebogo Simbowa (Ronald Chikomo), Ntesang Simanyana (Mpho Kgaswane), Osego Gaotewe, Kgololo Kgogobi (Mothatego)
Cautions: Seforo, Batang, Khunwane, Mampori
GU 1 (Shilongo 66th)