Township Rollers embark on a new chapter in their lives without Nikola Kavazovic who resigned a couple of weeks ago to take up the post of Kenyan side AFC Leopards after guiding the Gaborone giants to the group stages of the last African Champions League edition.
Rollers, now under the guidance of interim coach Thabo Matang, will host Bantu from Lesotho in the first leg preliminary encounter at the Lobatse Sports complex on Tuesday evening.
Although Rollers have hit a speed hump and wobbled a little bit following the departure of Kavazovic, Matang seems to have steadied the ship somewhat and they lead the standings in the domestic championship in Botswana.
And with veteran former Bloemfontein Celtic striker Joel Mogorosi regaining his sharpness in front of goals, the Gaborone side could well be a handful for Bantu, whose coach James Madidilane admitted that they knew pretty little about their opponents.
Bantu narrowly lost 2-1 to Bloemfontein Celtic in a practice match during the FIFA weekend break and Madidilane expressed his satisfaction about the performance of the Lesotho champions at the Ficksburg Stadium.
And Madidilane feels his side, which has endured a slow start to its title defence, played extremely well against Steve Komphela’s formidable “Phunya Selesele” which fielded all its best players on the day.
“I think we will be ready for the match with Township Rollers and we will try to push the boys hard as we can because we would be playing away,” Madidilane told Lesotho Times.
The Bantu mentor said that he has not had a chance to go to Botswana to watch Township Rollers in action but had obtained videos that he is hopeful will give him an idea of what to expect.
“We have to work more on our finishing because we have been struggling for goals in the league. It’s one element that we are working more on because you can’t win games without scoring goals,” he said.
Madidilane said he is also confident that his star players will rise to the occasion when they face the Botswana champions in the two-legged tie in the preliminary round.
However, he admitted that it’s been difficult to have all his players as Hlompho Kalake and Bokang Sello have also had to focus on the national team over the last four months.
The former Premier League Player of the year, Kalake, has not been at his best in recent months for Bantu but made an impact coming from the bench as Likuena beat Tanzania 1-0 on last week.
“It has been difficult to help some of the players rediscover their best form as they have been busy with the national team.
“But we will ensure that they are fresh for the game with Rollers and that they are not too loaded in terms of their fitness,” Madidilane said.