Substitute Onkabetse Makgantai scored a vital away goal as Gaborone United (GU) beat Nico United 2-1 on Saturday afternoon in a Mascom Top 8 first leg semi-final at the National Stadium.
GU welcomed back first choice goalkeeper Goitseone Phoko, who has been out of action due to injury. Midfielder Alphonse Modisaotsile also returned while attacker Ronald Chikomo and Jackie Mothathego started on the bench. Edwin Mokibe returned to the posts for the Phikwe outfit after missing the two teams’ clash on the previous weekend. The game started with both teams looking to get an early goal. The home team’s speedy wingers, Mandla Mgadla and Kgololo Kgogobi looking to be troublesome for the Nico’s full backs, but their crosses failed to reach the striking pair of Benson Shilongo and Tebogo Sembowa.
The first shot at goal came from Nico United, but was well saved by Phoko. GU made a couple of chances with Mgadla off target. Ofentse Nato failed to connect a Kgogobi free kick with his header. Kgogobi once found himself in a good position, but his low drive effort was saved by Mokibe.
Onkabetse Seforo seemed to be really struggling to keep up with Kgogobi as the winger made a good run and found Shilongo in the box but the striker’s effort was not enough. Phoko made a good save in the dying minutes of the first half after Mogomotsi Samson had put in a telling cross in the GU box. The young goalkeeper also made yet another crucial save from a Christopher Musonda’s shot. The attacker found himself unmarked in the GU penalty area after he was picked up by Shabby Nsongamali during the referee’s stoppage time.
After a goalless first half, Rahman Gumbo made the first change of the game, replacing Mgadla with Ntesang Simanyana early on. The introdution of the midfielder seemed to bring creativity for GU. Musonda missed a chance to take the lead after he missed a header from Kagiso Tutuwe’s cross.
In the 54th minute, Simanyana laid off a pass to Shilngo who picked up Sembowa at the edge of the box, who made no mistake, beating the Nico goalie on the bottom corner, to give Moyagoleele a one goal lead. Few minutes later, Shiilongo ran through the defence, but his shot was saved by Mokibe.
Shilongo missed a chance to extend the lead after he failed to finish a GU counter attack as his shot went straight at the keeper. The Namibian striker redeemed himself in the 65th minute when he nodded in a Kgogobi’s cross, to make it 2-0.
Coach Wesley Mondo of Nico introduced attackers Makgantai and Melvern Moyo for Musonda and Nsongamali. In the 70th minute, Phoko made a good save from Legwaila’s shot. The goalkeeper made yet another good save from a Khumoetsile Kufiwa curled free kick. Phoko made yet another save from Mogomotsi Samson as he put on a man of the match display.
On the 79th minute, Makgantai beat Gaopatwe Seosenyeng and put the ball past the advancing Phoko to reduce the deficit. The attacker missed another glorious chance to equalise after he found himself unmarked in the box.
Majombolo take an away goal advantage into the second leg of the semi-final, which will be played on the 15th March in Phikwe.
GU: Phoko, Thabiso Khunwane, Seosenyeng, Modisaotsile, Osego Gaotewe, Gosegonna Molapisi, Nato, Mgadla(Ntesang Simanyana), Shilongo, Kgogobi( Mpho Kgaswane), Sembowa (Chikomo)
Nico: Mokibe, Seforo, Tutuwe, Taboka Daniel, Nelson Moreestsi (Livingstone Witness), Richard Legwaila, Musonda( Moyo), Nsongamali( Makgantaii), Kufigwa, Samson, Otsile Batang.