Francistown: Most teams dread a trip to Orapa to face Orapa United at their Itekeng Stadium fortress.
Extension Gunners find themselves in the unfortunate predicament of travelling to Orapa to face the Ostriches in the opening encounter of the 2016 Mascom Top 8 this evening. Kick-off is at 7pm.
Itekeng Stadium has become an unfriendly place for visiting sides with Orapa proving invincible thus far. Orapa United is the very side that ended Gunners’ flying start to the season, and the Lobatse side never recovered.
Mapantsula have never won at Itekeng and have a poor overall record against the Ostriches with the last visit ending in a 3-1 drubbing. At Itekeng the home side won all their three games and scored five goals, while the Lobatse giants only managed a single goal in the three games.
Orapa United are the new entrants in this year’s competition and the only team representing the northern part of the country. Gunners played in the 2013 edition of the Mascom Top 8 where they went out in the quarterfinals at the hands of Nico United.
Orapa United spokesperson, Tebatso Hule said the hype is building up and the team is ready and solid.
“Our preparations have been perfect. We are happy we have no injuries. We have all our players for selection. Our focus is to go all the way and be the first team to bring this cup to the north.
“The town is buzzing and the atmosphere is building up nicely. Our supporters are geared up and I believe the stadium is going to be packed. I have no doubts tonight is going to be a success,” Hule said.
Gunners’ coach, Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare said his team is boosted by the return of some key players from injury adding that history will not hold them down.
“In football history doesn’t play a part. What matters is how we have prepared and how we apply ourselves on the game. This is a cup game and I hope the euphoria of the Mascom Top 8 will motivate everyone including my team, to perform.
“We have only Mogomotsi Mokoka out with an injury, but we will be boosted by the return of Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping, Amos Godirwang and Tshegofatso Chimuka.”
Nare said they respect Orapa United, but they will do their best.