Saturday’s epic clash between Orapa United’s coach Madinda Ndlovu and Daniel Chicco Nare of Gunners at Lobatse Sport Complex will be more a battle of egos between the two gaffers than just a quest for three points.
The fight between Ndlovu and Nare dates back five seasons ago when the Zimbabwean coach, Ndlovu, was still with Mochudi Centre Chiefs in his first season. Ndlovu went all the way to win the beMOBILE championship ahead of Nare and his BMC FC who had to contend with second position.
Shortly thereafter the two were nominated for beMOBILE Premier League awards under Coach of the Season category. Many expected Ndlovu to walk away with the award based on his coaching acumen and the fact he had produced both top goal scorer and player of the season from his squad. However, the awards’ technical committee declared Nare the winner ahead of Ndlovu. Of course this sent tongues wagging as pundits and the football faithful alike felt Ndlovu was denied his right to win a well-deserved accolade.
Ever since that development, it is the grass that suffers whenever these two gaffers meet as they want to outsmart each other to prove a point. Just three months ago, Nare returned from the wilderness to assume the reigns at Gunners. A few games in the hot seat, their rivalry was rekindled in a two-legged Mascom Top 8 quarter final clash where a winner would then proceed to the semi-finals.
Nare travelled to Orapa to face Madinda. His team fought so gallantly it defied its poor standings on the league log standings. Gunners’ supporters were rejuvenated and believed that they could beat Ndlovu in the return leg. Back then Ndlovu’s United were bad travellers but Ndlovu humiliated Nare’s side so much that Nare allegedly refused to speak to the press after the game.
At the time pundits read mischief in Nare’s conduct – that he was not so sore with losing to United, but was more pained at losing against Ndlovu.
Now this Saturday’s encounter presents him an opportunity to redeem himself. It’s a decisive game in which neither coach wants to drop points. Nare has gone six games unbeaten. The worst result he has picked was a draw. His team has not only shown character in the past games but a sense of belief as well. The team is stable; there is an air of certainty that spurs charges to fight not only for glory but pride also, in an effort to put behind the sad episode of the recent past when the club chopped and changed coaches willy-nilly. Gunners enter the game on the edge of the most sought after top 8 spot in the log standings.
Ndlovu is challenging for league honours and is chasing his own history of being the first coach locally to win a championship hattrick with three different clubs in the five seasons of the beMOBILE era. Ndlovu will throw his last ace to avoid defeat and consolidate his lead in the log, especially since he’ll already be aware of the results of the other title contenders – Rollers – who would have played the previous night. Dropping points against Nare would remind him of his days at Rollers when he went for 15 games undefeated only to end up empty-handed on the last days of his two year contract.
The same can be said about Chico who is desperately looking for maximum points to improve his chances of finishing in top 8 bracket. Ndlovu will be looking to Patrick Lenyeletse to continue banging in goals and the novice Thabang Sesinyi who is now threatening to run away with the top goal scorer’s Green Boot Award at the end of the season.
Nare will still trust Kemmy Pilato to do the damage in the middle of the park and score crucial goals as he did in the past and Moemedi Moatlhaping who earned them a point after scoring late penalty against Gaborone Unitedin their last fixture.
Can Chicco end Ndlovu’s unbeaten run when it matters the most for him? Well the jury is out!
Extension Gunners players at their recent game against Gaborone United which they drew 1-1