From minnow to powerhouse
Baroka FC cannot be dismissed
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.