By Bakang Mhladi
GABORONE – ON a dry, heatwave-battered weekend, Botswana’s premier knock-out cup competition, the Mascom Top 8, failed to spark, producing a meagre five goals from the four quarterfinal ties.
It was a goal drought the fans failed to fathom, as most sides chose caution ahead of the second legs in a fortnight.
The matches began last Friday and rolled on to Monday but only one tie featuring army side, BDF XI and Gaborone United saw more than one goal scored. BDF XI ran riot, winning 3-1 on Monday, when, up to that point only a solitary goal had been scored.
Township Rollers faced Police XI in the first encounter of the sixth edition and were frustrated for long periods before towering Senegalese striker, Pepe Ndaw’s late intervention gave them a 1-0 first leg advantage at the Francistown Sports Complex.
That was to be the tournament’s only goal in 270 minutes of football, before BDF XI’s attackers revived hope, blasting three past GU goalkeeper, Goitseone Phoko on Monday night.
Defending champions, Orapa United were in action on Saturday but could only settle for a frustrating 0-0 draw after asking more of the unsettling questions against a resolute Miscellaneous. Misfiring Mochudi Centre Chiefs, under Zimbabwean coach, Bongani Mafu stuttered to a goalless stalemate against tournament debutants, Jwaneng Galaxy on Sunday.
Mafu bemoaned the lack of fire power, as his underwhelming side were left still searching for their first victory of the season in five matches.
“We lack the finishing qualities, creating the runs and the incisive pass, but that is something we can work on. Our interplay is good, we connect six or seven passes, we need to keep on passing,” he told
reporters at the end of an uninspiring, dull 90minutes.
While Mafu was left staring the barrel after a barren run, there were no such worries for BDF XI’s Louis Setshwane, who watched his side take a giant stride towards the semi-final. Former Rollers winger, Kebaimelo ‘Swere’ Kebaikanye was the persistent irritant, plundering two goals in a performance which handed him the man-of-the-match award.
It had remained 1-1 with 13 minutes on the clock, but two quick goals left the tie emphatically tilted in BDF XI’s favour.
Soccer analyst, Calistus Kolantsho argues the results are a reflection of the cautious nature of cup games.
“The teams will not want to concede particularly with the second leg looming, which I believe is the reason why we saw few goals scored. The heatwave might have taken a toll on the players and therefore the quality of play,” Kolantsho told The Southern Times.
Temperatures hovered around the 40 degrees celsius mark for most parts of the weekend.
The winners of the competition pocket P1.2 million (approx. R1.6 million) and fans will be hoping the goal scoring fortunes improve as the tournament progresses.