Bantu in positive start
…holds Rollers in Gaborone in Champs League opener
BANTU kickstarted its 2018/19 CAF Champions League campaign on a positive note holding Botswana’s Township Rollers 1-1 on Tuesday evening at Lobatse Stadium in Gaborone.
The two sides started the match cautiously trying to ensure they did not concede in the early stages of the game.
The home side the greater fraction of possession trying to attack through the middle of the park while Bantu sat back attempting to catch the hosts in counter attacks.
James Madidilane plan seemed to work for the visitors and they were the first to come close to opening the score with Tsietsi Khooa’s header from a Lindokhuhle Phungwula corner. However, Khooa’s header from the near side narrowly missed the target at the half hour mark.
Bantu also came close numerous times towards the dying minutes of the first half but striker Lazola Tjokotjokwana was wasteful.
Bantu goalkeeper Thabiso Lichaba forced the match to go to the break goalless as he denied Motsholetsi Sikele in a one on one situation on the 44th minute.
Desperate to increase numbers in attack, Bantu made a half time substitute introducing Mokone Marabe for Thabo Lesaoana.
Five minutes after the break, Khooa came close once again but unfortunately his header once again went wide.
Rollers changed their game plan attacking from the flanks and it nearly worked for them when Maano Ditshupo saw his header missing the target from a cross from the right.
Popa, as the home side is affectionately known, broke the deadlock through a Moshe Gaolaolwe header on 56th minute.
But Rollers happiness was shot-lived as Litsepe Marabe levelled matters just a minute later.
The left footed attacker received the ball with one defender to beat and he made no mistake as he skinned him before shooting to the far past leaving the goalkeeper watching helplessly.
Rollers made their first substitute on 58 minutes with Tumisang Orebonue coming in for Sikele.
Bantu failed to capitalise on a golden opportunity to get into the lead with Mokone deciding to go for glory rather than pass the ball to his younger brother Litsepe after a Gaolaolwe mistake in the 62nd minute.
Seven minutes later, Rollers made their second substitute as Jackson Lesole made way for Kamogelo Motsabi.
Bantu made their last two changes introducing Tsietsi Motseare and Neo Mokhachane for Tjokotjokwane and Lehlohonolo Fothoane on the 75th minute.
Thabiso Lichaba was the hero on the day saving the day for Bantu with just five minutes to go producing a double save to deny Joel Mogorosi a goal.
Madidilane was a happy man after the match and said the away goal would give them an advantage going into the return leg scheduled for the 4th of December.
“We told ourselves that we are playing away so we are going to allow them to play in their half and then we will try to catch them on the break so that we gain confidence and it worked for us,” Madidilane said.
“We drew so our game plan came through for us although we failed to score from some clear-cut chances which I think we could have buried. However, the draw will make things much easier for us while playing at home.”
He said the second leg is going to be different for Bantu because they will have to take the game to Rollers.
“At home the plan is going to be different. Today my offensive players were more or less defending instead of attacking but that is going to change,” Madidilane said.
Rollers coach Thabo Motang on the hand was disappointed with the results but said it was not yet over.
“Of course, results failed to come our way but it is not yet over because there is still another match to play. They scored and might have advantage but it’s not over,” Motang said.
Rollers mentor lamented that they gave away the match to Bantu who played according to their strengths.
“They sat back and we kept on taking the ball to them. We played to their strengths. Our long passes were played to an isolated man and it did not help us,” Mutang said.