Township Rollers on Tuesday night were edged out of the 2018-19 CAF Champions League at the first hurdle, the Blues losing to Bantu of Lesotho in a penalty shootout after the the two sides had been deadlocked 1-1 on the night and a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.
In match played at the Setsoto Stadium in Maseru, Rollers took the lead through Lemponye Tshireletso just 15 minutes into the first half, but Bantu managed the equaliser through Hlompho Kalake 34 minutes in.
This took the match to 1-1, the same result as the previous week in Lobatse, necessitating a penalty shootout after the 2-2 aggregate scoreline. Bantu managed to get a 4-2 win in the shootout to advance to the next stage where they will meet AS Vita of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Interim head coach Thabo Motang made three changes to the side that had started the first leg in Lobatse a week earlier.
Goalkeeper Wagarre Dikago, right back Jackson Lesole and central striker Joel Mogorosi made way for Keeagile Kgosipula, Mothusi “Mini” Cooper and Tumisang “Teenage Orebonye. Captain Maano Ditshupo switched to a right back berth to accommodate Cooper who paired with defensive midfield anchor Ivan Ntege in midfield.
Rollers started with a line up of Keeagile Kgosipula, Maano Ditshupo, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, Simisani Mathumo, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Ivan Ntege, Motsholetsi Sikele, Mothusi Cooper, Tumisang Orebonye, Segolame Boy and Lemponye Tshireletso.
Rollers opened the scoring through Tshireletso, who get Popa a crucial away goal within 15 minutes of kickoff.
But Bantu managed to claw their way back through a long range Kalake free kick, taking the match to half time at one all.
This set up an interesting second half as both sides knew they had to score in order to progress.
Early in the second half Bantu shaved the upright with another set piece as the hosts looked to secure the lead. Ten minutes into the second period, Kalake spurned a gilt edged chance to give his Bantu the lead on the night.
Ditshupo and Gaolaolwe were booked as the action heated up, both sides seeking the decisive goal.
Rollers introduced Mogorosi for Ditshupo and later Bogosi Mfila came on for Tshireletso as Popa looked to step up their attacking game.
But the match ended at one apiece, the 2-2 aggregate scoreline forcing the penalty shootout won 4-2 by Bantu.
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