By Bakang Mhladi
GABORONE – MOCHUDI Centre Chiefs put their recent woes behind with a thrilling 3-2 victory over biggest rivals, Township Rollers over the weekend, which saw them climb to mid table.
Battling a poor start to the season, which had left them 11th, Chiefs went into the encounter as overwhelming underdogs, but responded in the best possible way in a clash featuring Botswana’s two biggest sides.
The pulsating encounter was, however, marred by bottle-throwing incidents at the end with Rollers’ English coach, Mark Harrison, the target.
But that did little to take away the gloss off Chiefs’ deserved victory, which was achieved through a glorious opener from young attacker, Thatayaone Ramatlapeng in the eighth minute.
The burly striker received an inch perfect through ball and arrowed a shot, which curled away from a chasing Kabelo Dambe, between the sticks for Rollers.
Popa were stunned and tried to craft a response. But Chiefs proved the hungrier side with Tshepho Baipoledi turning and thumping an effort wide before skipper, Lesego Galenamotlhale shot tamely in a furious opening half.
Rollers’ hopes went up in smoke when winger, Edwin Moalosi saw red in the 38th minute after picking his second yellow for simulation.
Chiefs grabbed a second right at the end of the first half when winger, Remmington Masuku gleefully put away a Dambe spill, to spark wild celebrations before a disappointing crowd in the capital’s National Stadium.
Rollers were reeling and failed to recover despite fashioning the
better chances in a second half, which did not drop tempo. They halved the deficit through Malawian midfielder, Lawrence Majawa but master of dribble Dirang Moloi restored Chiefs’ two-goal advantage with a close tap-in after the overworked Dambe had blocked the initial effort.
But former Supersport United midfielder, Mogogi Gabonamong ensured a nervy finish with a close-range finish in the 90th minute to set-up a nail-biting four added on minutes.
However, Chiefs managed to close shop and bounce back in emphatic fashion after a difficult opening to the season where they were dumped out of the Mascom Top 8 cup and registered two defeats in the BTC Premiership to minnows, Miscellaneous and Sankoyo Bush Bucks.
“It was a well-deserved win. This was down to a good plan, today we managed to convert our chances,” a relieved Chiefs coach, Bongani Mafu said.
The win lifted Chiefs from 11th to ninth place with nine points from seven matches, seven off the pace.
At the top, Orapa United replaced Extension Gunners after a 2-0 win over Mahalapye United Hotspurs. Gunners suffered a last-minute heartache when visitors, Sankoyo equalised with virtually the last kick of the match in a 1-1 draw. The point saw the Lobatse side drop to second position on 15 points – a point behind Orapa.
Rookies, Black Forest are proving the surprise of the season thus far after they cantered to a shock 1-0 victory over a strong BDF XI side, to climb to third.
Argentine coach, Rudolf Zapata was left mouth agape after he saw his fancied Gaborone United trip 2-1 at new boys, Security Systems.