FRANCISTOWN: Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy will this weekend, launch their attempts to progress beyond the preliminary round of CAF competitions for the first time.
The most notable advantage for the Jwaneng-based outfit is that they have had fairly good preparations for the competition. They recently returned from South Africa where they played several friendlies including against Kaizer Chiefs during the international break. The biggest blow for Galaxy is that three foreign players who were recently signed by the club will not be available because they are waiting for their work permits.
Oris Radipotsane will lead the Galaxy technical team as the club’s recent recruit, coach Morena Ramoreboli who hails from South Africa, is still waiting for his work permit. Midfielder Gift Moyo is out of the tie after sustaining an injury during a recent friendly match against Orapa United. The CAR side is not new to the competition. They were last in the CAF champions league in 2016 but their best outing was reaching the round of the 32 of the competition in 2012.
“Everything is going very well in our camp. The players are in good shape. We will be switching camps to Gaborone this afternoon. The players are in very good shape,” Radipotsane said yesterday. For Orapa United it will not be a sensation if the club does well against Gabon side, AS Mangasport. AS Mangasport do have a relatively better pedigree than the Ostriches in continental football, but they are not a force to be reckoned with.
The club has participated in the CAF Champions League five times and their best attempt was when they made it to the first round of the competition in 2007 and 2009. The plus for United is that they boast better experience on the current dynamics of continental football having participated in the Confederations Cup last season.
On the other hand, Mangasport have been out of continental football for almost a decade. The only significant challenge for Mogomotsi Mpote’s side is that the local league has not been active for nearly two years. The club has only been allowed to train because football activities in the country are not allowed except for teams or sports codes taking part in international competitions. As a result, the players might not be match-fit for the clash.
Perhaps United will draw solace from the fact that the Gabon elite league is also currently inactive due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, the Gabon side has played several friendlies in preparation for the local clashes.
Meanwhile, the Ostriches arrived in Gabon on Wednesday afternoon and had their first training session yesterday morning. “We have tried to research our opponents but we have failed to get solid information. We do not know them very well. We are however very ready for the competition. We have prepared intensively for the match. The atmosphere in Gabon is very good,” Mpote said.