Despite odds seemingly stacked against struggling city giants, Gaborone United (GU), coach Rodolfo Zapata has said he enjoys pressure of such games as his side on Sunday faces BDF XI for the second time in seven days. Moyagoleele, who towards the end of last season vowed to be one of the teams to watch this season, have suddenly found the going tough early on in the season.
Following the arrival of Zapata in the middle of last season, GU rose from the slumber and looked like a team to watch this season. Since the departure of striker, Benson Shilongo, they have struggled to instil fear on opponents despite playing brilliant and free flowing football.
Except in the first leg of the Mascom Top 8 quarter-final against BDF XI where they lost 3-1, GU collectively have looked a very strong side. With Alphonse Modisaotsile and Thato Ogopotse manning the midfield, and Ghanaian defender, Edwin Bonsu in the defence, they have shown glimpses of a strong side.
The attacking talent in the likes of Karabo Phiri, Kabelo Seakanyeng and Hendrick Moyo has however failed to produce goals despite the number of chances they create. Moyo being the hard worker he is, at times appears like he needed to partner a natural number nine to finish what he (Moyo) has wrestled for.
As a lone and main striker, Moyo has showed he cannot cope and usually prefers going deep to pick balls. Youthful striker, Tumisang Orebonye looks the part and with time promises to be the ideal number nine for the Gaborone giants.The statistics do not look good with five league games played so far. For a team that has four national team players, they have scored four goals, conceded five and have a minus one-goal difference.
Zapata told Mmegi Sport that the tougher the games and the more adverse the circumstances, the more excited he gets.
“I enjoy the pressure. GU is working hard like always. The winning culture starts on the training ground, and we had an intense training week that will culminate tomorrow (Saturday),” Zapata said yesterday. He said his side has created chances but failed to capitalise in the end dropping valuable points.
He said because of financial constraints, GU were not able to beef up their squad in the off-season. “Ralesotla (Moatlhodi) was trying out with other teams for himself. After a month, he came back but he lost our pre-season. Moyo just got married in the middle of the season, and he lost 20 important training days because of that,” Zapata said.
BDF XI have scored six goals, conceded two and still have a game in hand. BDF XI appear to be enjoying top form under Louis Setshwane who has so far got one over his counterpart. His side last weekend eliminated GU in the Mascom Top 8 with a 4-2 aggregate.
Besides current form, BDF XI have in the past five years became GU’s nightmare. With 10 league clashes between the two since the 2011/2012 season, BDF XI have won five with GU winning three. Two of those matches ended up in a stalemate. Matebele have scored 12 goals in those matches while GU managed to find the net 11 times.
While GU can only wait for January to find the perfect replacement for Shilongo, a quick remedy has to be found if they are to fight for the league title. BDF XI on the other hand have relied on many players for goals this season. In the 1-0 win over Township rollers, recently, Namibian striker, Roger Katjiteo scored the only goal. In the first league match, they beat Mahalapye Hotspurs 3-1 with goals coming from Khumbulani Madziba, Keegaile Kobe and Kobamelo Kebaikanye. Kebaikanye then scored a brace in the first leg of the quarter-final against GU with the other goal coming from Katjiteo. This past weekend midfielder, Bitwell Phiri was on target when they played 1-1 with GU.
Kebaikanye in particular seems to be enjoying his game at BDF XI after being frozen out at his parent club, Rollers. He remains a threat on the left wing and will now face Tshepo Maikano for the third time in a space of two months. Matebele are second with a game in hand while GU are in position 10.
In other interesting matches this weekend, defending champions Rollers will be up against Green Lovers in Molepolole. Green Lovers have managed just one win so far. Chiefs who are still dealing with their elimination from the Mascom Top 8 take on Sankoyo Bush Bucks at the National Stadium. Jwaneng Galaxy host Nico United in Jwaneng.