From min­now to pow­er­house

Baroka FC can­not be dis­missed

African Times - - Sports - MOYAHABO MABEBA

THE year was 2011, April 24 to be ex­act. It was the first time Baroka FC, who were cam­paign­ing in the Vo­da­com League un­der the tute­lage of Sello Chokoe, col­lided against the all­con­quer­ing Kaizer Chiefs in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Ned­bank Cup.

The venue was the Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium on the south-eastern out­skirts of Polok­wane where the two side re­sume their hos­til­i­ties in an Absa Pre­mier­ship fix­ture sched­uled for this Sun­day.

Kick-off for this en­counter is at 15:30.

As foot­ball fans who no is­sues with se­lec­tive am­ne­sia would re­call, Baroka took to the field just as min­nows and given the aris­to­cratic sta­tus of the Soweto gi­ants, Bak­gaga were seen as a step lad­der to Chiefs to procced to the semi-fi­nals.

But is wasn’t the case as the lesser-known Lim­popo side stunned the might Amakhosi with a 2-1 vic­tory, re­sult­ing in many eye­brows ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an up­ward move­ment while many a jaw al­most reached ground lev­els.

Since then, Baroka have been a thorn in the buts of the Phe­feni Glam­our Boys as they con­sol­i­dated their record against Chiefs whom they beat 2-1 again in the first leg of the 2017/18 sea­son.

Al­beit Chiefs were the ones to draw first blood in all these en­coun­ters, Baroka just man­age to come out guns blaz­ing, lev­el­ling mat­ters with re­mark­able flour­ish .

With their amaz­ing re­silience, Bak­gaga al­ways stub­bornly prove their up­per hand against Chiefs with clin­i­cal ef­fi­ciency and at­ten­tion to de­tail when it mat­ters most in the dy­ing min­utes of the game.

Amakhosi’s mer­cu­rial shot­stop­per cap­tain Itume­leng Khune is well aware of the tor­ment­ing short changes Baroka are no­to­ri­ous of , and come Sun­day, he can ex­pect se­ri­ous threats in his dan­ger zone.

Baroka have done well lately as they tem­po­rar­ily sat com­fort­ably at the sum­mit of the log stand­ings only to be de­throned by African Cham­pi­ons Mamelodi Sun­downs.

They are in high spir­its fol­low­ing their con­vinc­ing 2-nil vic­tory over AmaZulu FC on Sun­day at Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium while Chiefs re­vived their ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions by beat­ing Polok­wane City 2- naught at FNB Sta­dium on Satur­day.

Bak­gaga are blessed with phe­nom­e­nal ta­lent up­front with for­mer Chiefs cen­tre for­ward Lewis Macha, right winger Richard Mat­loga and an­other cen­tre for­ward in Mfun­disi Cahuke lead­ing the attack.

Even af­ter the de­par­ture of Siphelele Nt­shangase, Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobe­jane is still spoilt for choice up front – thanks, in no small part, to the mas­sive in­flu­ence and com­mand­ing pres­ence of Gift Mo­tupa, who sealed the deal for Bak­gaga on Sun­day at home fol­low­ing a mag­nif­i­cent coun­ter­at­tack in the 78th minute.

The erst­while Pi­rates at­tack­ing mid­fielder will re­main with Baroka FC un­til the end of the cur­rent cam­paign.

Mo­tupa is ex­pected to spear­head Bak­gaga’s attack this week­end as the club’s for­tunes.

There has been spec­u­la­tion that Mo­tupa will be re­turn­ing to Pi­rates but it has emerged that the 23-yearold will only be el­i­gi­ble to re­turn to the Sea Rob­bers in the July trans­fer pe­riod at the end of the 2017/18 sea­son.

Bak­gaga CEO Mor­gan Mamila said, “Mo­tupa is still our player and the coach is ex­pect­ing a lot from him. He is a valu­able team player and his con­tri­bu­tion to the club is highly ap­pre­ci­ated. He is one of the men we are bank­ing on to en­sure that we end the sea­son on a high note.”

Af­ter star­ring for Bak­gaga dur­ing their rise up the lower di­vi­sions of the South African foot­ball league pyra­mid, the technically gifted mid­fielder-cum-striker was snapped up by the Buc­ca­neers.

His time with the Ghosts brought un­par­al­leled suc­cess within the ju­nior na­tional team as he com­peted at the Youth Africa Cup of Na­tions and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

How­ever, his rise to promi­nence was sub­se­quently halted by a lack of game-time with the Sea Rob­bers.

But upon his re­turn to his first pro­fes­sional club, the 23-year-old is ready to con­trib­ute to Baroka’s cause and reignite the form that made him one of South Africa’s most soughtafter tal­ents.

Hen­drick Ep­stein of Kaizer Chiefs and Lewis Macha of Baroka.

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