Goitseone Phoko emerged as the hero of the night when Gaborone United triumphantly galloped to their second Mascom Top 8 glory on Saturday. However, Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE argues it was the robust midfield combination of Alphonso Modisaotsile and Ofentse Nato, which was key in sending the cup to the red half of Gaborone
The sun was long gone and the temperatures were fast dipping on a cold and heavily overcast Saturday night.
Gaborone United (GU) and Township Rollers were ready for an epic battle before a below par cup final crowd.
The blue side of Gaborone was optimistic of another triumph as GU walked out of the dugout as the underdogs.
But after an absorbing, aesthetic encounter the Reds soaked in the famous win as the heavens opened on the stroke of fulltime.
GU coach, Rahman Gumbo’s elaborate midfield plan had suffocated life out of Rollers.
The much-vaunted right and left foot combination of midfield geniuses, Dirang Moloi and Segolame Boy was paralysed by two hard men, Alphonso Modisaotsile and Ofentse ‘Size 10’ Nato.
And at the end of the 90 minutes, Modisaotsile and Nato had delivered on what is often a gargantuan task.
With Boy and Moloi struggling to stay afloat, Rollers’ fluidity disappeared. This brought sharp memories of Rollers’ clash against Kaizer Chiefs in the CAF Champions League in February.
The South Africans critically cut the supply to Boy and Rollers were rendered ineffective.
On Saturday, the rising Mpho Kgaswane took the game by the scruff of the neck in the early exchanges and was, without doubt, the brightest player in the first half. His runs and close ball control proved a handful for a subdued Rollers.
When Gumbo realised Tendai Nyamadzabo had not turned up on the night, he swiftly introduced Ntesang ‘Mirror’ Simanyana. Another masterstroke.
After Rollers took the lead in the second half through Kobamelo Kebaikanye, the lively Simanyana immediately swept GU back into the contest; finishing high into the net.
In the mean time, Moloi and Boy continued to huff and puff in the middle as Nato and Alphonse remained resolute.
On their day, Moloi and Boy can bludgeon the opposition into submission. Moloi drifted in and out of the game with the occasional signature pass, but Boy never joined the party.
When coach, Madinda Ndlovu pulled out goal scorer, Keibakanye, the GU job appeared much easier.
His replacement, target man, Jerome Ramatlhakwana meant Rollers’ mobility was compromised.
After Namibian revelation, Benson Shilongo tucked away the P1milion penalty, Rollers tried to up the ante, but found a new stumbling block; Goitseone Phoko.
The 20 year-old who has proved to be GU’s find of the season, was rightly adjudged the man of the match after another flawless shift.
The only –and meaningless- blemish came in the first half when Phoko went for a high ball, but as he tried to gather the ball, it slipped through his gloves.
The opposition simply spurned the chance.
GU comfortably dealt with whatever an insipid Rollers threw to grab the P1 million winners’ fat cheque - and in the process, rescued their season.