Ecco set to make history on Sunday
Ecco City Greens will be out to make history this Sunday when they take on a wounded Township Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 final. Mamoja Disk as they are fondly called by their passionate fans will attempt to be the first team to win the inaugural P1 million Cup in front of a capacity crowd at the University of Botswana stadium.
The northerners are no new comers to making history. They are the first team from the north to win the Premier League and ironically it was during Mascom’s tenor as the league’s main sponsor in 2007. Perhaps Atshele Molapi’s led team may just feel that they have a connection with the 71 mobile telephony. Mamoja are so far the most successful in north, having also reached a Coke semifinal in 2008. They have finished the season in the top 8 which automatically qualifies them for next season’s Tse Di Tona Cup.
Both teams were knocked out by Mochudi Center Chiefs in the Coca Cola Cup quarter finals and semi finals respectively, and the Top 8 Cup remains the only chance for either club to collect some silverware. Ecco management revealed to Voice Sport that should they win players will get 40% of the prize money as stipulated in each player’s contract concerning Cups.
Speaking to Voice Sport this week Ecco mentor Molapi said their journey to reach this far was not easy. Ecco played BMC in their first match and were drawn against defending league Champions Chiefs and now have to face former Champions Rollers.
“When I took over at the end of the first round after the departure of head Coach Christopher Tembo, I sat down with players to plan for the remaining league and cup games. Our aim was to reach all finals of cup competitions; unfortunately we were drawn with one team Chiefs and they knocked us out of the Coke Cup. The boys have shown commitment at training and I believe they will apply it during the last day. We have been out of action for weeks but we had a match practice against the national Under 20 team and the game has helped us a great deal with our preparations,” he said.
He said it is difficult to prepare for an unpredictable and experienced team like Rollers, but however added that they are ready to fight with everything they have to take the trophy to Francistown.
Molapi said he expects the usual fast paced match with a lot of scoring chances as is always the case when these two teams clash.
The Ecco mentor also took a second to comment about officiating in the tournament, perhaps as early mind games on the referees.
“I was not happy with the officiating during the semi finals because most of my players sustained serious injuries but there were no cautions. I suspect that local officials are intimidated by large crowds and would give decisions to a team with a large following,” he said. Mamoja Diskie captain Emmanuel Nlu said the morale in the camp is very high and has no doubt that the Cup is heading north.
“We have won a Mascom sponsored league now we are going for the cup. Playing five games and getting P1 million will be a great achievement for the Ecco Family. This is a different team, everyone is taking part even the coach has a little work at the ground. The game is away, played on Sunday and our supporters are likely to be out-numbered by Mapalastina supporters but that will not put us under pressure as the fight is on the field. We will be representing the north region and I hope supporters from other clubs will come to witness this mouth watering clash,” said Nlu.
Meanwhile Rollers Coach Mike Sithole said it is every team’s dream to win but a prepared and best team will lift the trophy. He said winning the Masom Top 8 tournament will mean a lot to Mapalastina.
“We are just recovering from a defeat and this week I talked to my players to forget about it and focus on the coming game. The response from the boys has been good so far and everyone is looking forward to win the cup. Our centre forward Tebogo Sembowa who is also former Ecco player has recovered from his injury and will take part in the game,” said Sithole.
In Francistown, tickets for the finals are sold at Valentine Sports Gift shop for P50. Kick-off is 1500hrs.