Jet-lagged Ostriches look to advance

Touch down:
Orapa United had a gruelling travel schedulePIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Touch down: Orapa United had a gruelling travel schedulePIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

FRANCISTOWN: Orapa United will look to beat both fatigue and their opponents, AS Mangasport of Gabon on Saturday if they are to progress to the next stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.

United go into the clash, to be played at the National Stadium, knowing they need a score of any margin to progress to the next stage after a draw away on Sunday. United cannot bank on home support as fans are currently banned from the stadium as part of COVID-19 restrictions.

Any scoring draw will see Mangasport advance to the next stage of the competition.

The main challenge for United will be fatigue. The Ostriches only touched down in the country yesterday, having played the first-round match on Sunday in Gabon. They were forced into long hours of travel due to challenges brought about by COVID-19, which has some airlines grounded. On a positive note, Mpote will draw some positives from the first-round clash in Gabon. The Ostriches showed glimpses of greatness against Mangasport and could have at least scored a goal. Just like in Botswana, football is currently on suspension in Gabon, but this did not have much impact on Mangasport’s preparations. Since July, Mangasport have played about eight friendly matches in preparation for the Confederations Cup. They looked much fitter than the Ostriches, especially towards the dying minutes of the match. Their level of fitness might be their weapon on Saturday, especially looking at the fact that United has missed some days of training because of their gruelling travel schedule.

United should also brace themselves for an attack-minded Mangasport. Kévin Djony, the mentor of the Gabonese outfit declared readiness for the weekend clash when talking to the press in his homeland after the first round. He said his side will take the game to the Ostriches in the second leg.

Meanwhile, Botswana’s representatives in the CAF Champions League, Jwaneng Galaxy are in a pole position to book a spot in the second round of the competition for the first time in their history. Galaxy walloped Diplomat FC 2-0 of the Central African Republic (CAR) in the first round of the preliminary round of the competition in Gaborone last Saturday.

The biggest plus for Galaxy is that their two foreign signings, Namibian forward Wendell Rudah and Lucky Mokwena have hit the ground running. The two players scored on their debuts on Saturday after they were both introduced in the second half. Perhaps the lowest point for Galaxy over the weekend is that they missed easy chances. Even newly appointed coach, Morena Ramoreboli conceded that the 2-0 scoreline was not a true reflection of the game.

“We could have scored more goals, but this was one of those games where we made numerous errors. We will go back to the drawing board to correct and improve,” he said.

Ramoreboli emphasised the need to be solid at the back and ensure that they become clinical upfront.

Galaxy might not have it easy against the CAR side. Diplomat coach, Loungoundji Herve Eric, said that they will be more offensive in the second round match to be played today (Friday). Galaxy arrived in Cameroon, where the second leg match will be played, on Wednesday.

Galaxy have twice failed to go beyond the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League. If they prevail in the second leg, they will meet Tanzanian giants, Simba FC in the next stage of the competition.

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