When the clock struck 2200hrs at the national stadium on Wednesday evening, in a tempestuous match against the unpredictable Extension Gunners, Township Rollers made it clear that, despite many doubting their credentials, their title aspiration was now authentic.
The match would allegedly end Coach Mark Harrison’s stay with The Blues, but the Gaborone giants had to ride their luck after Gunners’ defence and the controversial goalkeeper, Michael Pepukani conceded what their coach Daniel Nare said were ‘silly goals’ inside the first 15 minutes. The two goals from Rollers’ new acquisition, Lemponye Tshireletso saw Harrison reverting to Rollers favourite tactics, initiating power play and catching the opponents on counter attack. It was worth restoring the tactics following hard long weeks of failure with new formation especially in the midfield.
Chico Dance’s team lost the plot almost instantly when they could not deal with the hard pressing midfield bossed by Lawrence Majawa, Captain of the day; Maano Ditshupo and the ever impressive Segolame Boy. It was not surprising when Boy won a loose ball in the midfield and drifted wide with pace, bringing experienced Mogorosi into the space left behind, to send a chilling cross that found Tshireletso unmarked to slot home the opener.
It was a contest that ticked all the boxes of a category A game especially that Rollers were once again called to demonstrate the tag of a power house. The Mma Masire side played with cohesion and structure that eventually saw them leap-frog Gunners to a second position, two points behind Orapa United.
There is a belief that Harrison’s side will contest for the league without failure should he stay and adopt a working philosophy for the team. ‘‘We played exceptionally well, I am happy with the result,’’ Harrison said briefly after the game.
He has to be happy. There was more at stake for Township Rollers than beating Extension Gunners who have been enjoying the lime light, and to prolong Harrison’s stay- the merits of which continue to feel dubious. How else could his team selection have been explained?
The starting eleven he sent out was stronger than that which he had named in the previous league encounters, when the club’s hopes had been on the line.
Harrison went strong and he was rewarded, even if it has to be acknowledged that Gunners played dreadfully. In their last game at Lobatse, they lost to Gilport Lions, a team under confusion of ownership. How they would turn a corner against a team in need of redemption was always going to be difficult.
Rollers could only beat what was in front of them and they did so with a comfort that was not entirely reflected in the score line. It was a game Rollers desperately wanted to win, especially when the coach substituted striker, Terrence Mandaza for Mosha Gaolaolwe who is a defender.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.