By Bakang Mhladi
GABORONE-THE Botswana Premier League table assumed a familiar look after day four of action saw regular challengers, Township Rollers, seize the early initiative.
It has been a slow start to the season with the leaders managing only eight points after four matches, with three teams tied at the top.
Rollers are ahead of Orapa United and previous leaders, Extension Gunners due to a superior goal difference as the league action paves way for the Mascom Top 8 action this weekend.
Rollers faced a tough test away to Jwaneng Galaxy on Saturday but emerged unscathed with a hard fought 2-1 win, which moved them to eight points.
Unbeaten Orapa United joined Rollers at the top after dismissing a battling Gaborone United 1-0 in Molepolole on Saturday. Orapa coach, Madinda Ndlovu, said it was still early days in the race while his GU counterpart, Rudolf Zapata, told The Southern Times their financial challenges were coming to the fore.
“We did not have a proper pre-season [budget] and did not get the players we wanted due to our situation,” he said.
Gunners’ title credentials came under the microscope when they hosted army side BDF XI at the Lobatse Sports Complex and the tie fizzled to a 0-0 draw despite the home side rattling the crossbar on two occasions.
Gunners, who led after day three, made a blistering start last season, but faltered as the campaign progressed.
Their well-documented boardroom struggles have halted progress, but coach Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare has vowed to fight on.
At the bottom, the start of the season has proved unforgiving for a relatively well-off state sponsored Police XI who remain winless after four matches. They anchor the log with just one point, and signs are already ominous after falling seven points behind the pace setters. New boys Black Forest have been the surprise of the opening rounds after holding giants, Rollers and Gaborone United in consecutive matches while they went on to defeat cash rich Gilport Lions for their first full set of points in their debut season. They sit sixth with five points and are undefeated in three matches.
Premiership action takes a break this weekend as the sixth edition of the Mascom Top 8 blasts into life on Friday with last year’s losing finalists Rollers facing Police XI in Francistown.
The following day, defending champions Orapa United have a seemingly easy tie when they welcome Miscellaneous to Itekeng Stadium. A tantalising tie beckons between faltering Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Galaxy at the National Stadium on Sunday while BDF XI and GU do battle at the Molepolole Sports Complex on Monday night to complete the quarter final line-up.