Rollers pay the penalty

Faces of dejection: Rollers were subdued against GU. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Faces of dejection: Rollers were subdued against GU. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The departed Township Rollers coach, Madinda Ndlovu might have resigned from his position, but he is in hot soup over utterance he made after cup loss to Gaborone United (GU.

The Zimbabwean tactician was quoted as saying referee, Lekgotla Johannes decided to end the Mascom Top 8 final by awarding a penalty to city rivals, Gaborone United (GU).Ndlovu complained bitterly about the penalty which Namibian striker, Benson Shilongo converted for the winner.

Football pundits however, did not analyse the match that way, instead attributing Rollers’ loss to GU’s tactical mastery on the day. Before the match, Rollers appeared favourites mainly because of the kind of players they have.

Rollers were fresh from thrashing BMC 5-0 with the likes of Manqoba Ngwenya and Thato Bolweleng, who had not been seeing much action, getting the nod.

Ngwenya in particular was a marvel to watch, scoring a brace. It was also going to be interesting to see how Ndlovu and his technical team would pick the team for the final following Ngwenya’s performance against BMC.

Oscar Ncenga and Tshepho Motlhabankwe made their return from injury.  Despite breaking the deadlock through speedy winger, Kobamelo Kebaikanye, Rollers’ play was awful from the first whistle.

GU dominated the midfield and closed all the spaces in the middle. Rollers usually pair Malawian midfielder, Lawrence Majawa with Maano Ditshupo.

This time, they opted for Dirang Moloi, perhaps to try and unlock GU with creative players. This move backfired as GU deployed two hard working and holding midfielders, Ofentse Nato and Alphonse Modisaotsile.

Modisaotsile in particular, was assigned to Rollers’ usual match winner, Segolame Boy who could not make the dangerous runs going forward.  On the other hand, Moloi also could not produce his usual tricks and defence splitting passes. With Boy and Moloi both stifled in the middle, GU made an early substitution in the first half, taking out Tendai Nyamadzawo for playmaker, Ntesang Simanyana.

Rollers did not respond and tried to play a waiting game to see if they could not get back into the game.

The introduction of Simanyana gave GU total control of the match both in attack and defence.

Rollers striker, Jerome Louis was isolated since Boy was locked out and Sekhana Koko not in his element. This left Rollers with only one attacking player, Kebaikanye on the left while GU deployed Edwin Olerile, Mpho Kgaswane and Ntesang Simanyana to unlock them.  Simanyana went onto to score the equaliser just few minutes after Kebaikanye had put Rollers in front. Kebaikanye was removed immediately after putting Rollers through, making way for a striker, Jerome Ramatlhakwana.

Rollers continued to struggle and the substitution of Kebaikanye left many supporters fuming. Their argument was that he seemed to be the only Rollers attacker who managed to pose some threat to GU defence. GU on the other hand put in speedy winger, Kgololo Kgogobi whose introduction also paid dividends.

Kgogobi used his speed on the left forcing Rollers defender, Obonye Moswate to commit a foul, which led to the penalty and the P1 million winning goal.

By the time Rollers put in Ngwenya, GU goalkeeper, Goitseone Phoko bristled with good form, dealing with every threat that Rollers posed.  At the end, Ndlovu felt GU were awarded a “soft” penalty, but clearly his countryman, Rahman Gumbo won the match for GU tactically. The victory has salvaged GU’s season with the league title now out of their reach. Rollers on the other hand are still wondering what went wrong after a promising start to the season looks likely to end with a fizzle.

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