Gaborone - Township Rollers' bubble has burst after a dream run in the CAF Champions League as the Botswana side slumped to a third defeat on the trot.
Rollers, making their first appearance in the group stages of Africa’s richest club competition, conceded with nine minutes left to record a 1-0 loss to eight-time champions, Al Ahly, before a good crowd at the National Stadium on Saturday night. It was their first home loss in this year's competition.
The Gaborone side had lost 3-0 to their Egyptian opponents 10 days earlier and also suffered a humbling 4-1 defeat to Esperance last month.
Their chances of progressing to the quarter-finals now hang threadbare, with Esperance having taken the first spot and Al Ahly, on seven points, now favourites to fill the other berth.
Rollers and Uganda’s Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) anchor Group A with three points each, with only two rounds of matches remaining.
After putting up a good fight away in North Africa, Rollers had expected to reverse the results at home, but Al Ahly defender, Salif Coulibaly had others ideas as he planted a firm header with nine minutes remaining.
The goal has all but ended Rollers’ interest in the competition, with an away trip to Uganda and a home fixture against already qualified Esperance to come.
Esperance beat KCCA to conclude a successful weekend for the North African giants.
DRC’s TP Mazembe also sealed their progress to the quarter-finals while other Southern African sides, Mbabane Swallows and Primeiro de Augusto still hold hopes of progressing to the next stage. But the sun has all but set for Zambia’s Zesco who find themselves bottom of Group D with just two points.
Meanwhile, Rollers suspended their goalkeeper, Mwampule Masule for attending trials at the South African side, Highlands Park without authorisation.
Masule was outstanding for Botswana at the COSAFA Cup held in South Africa last month and attracted the attention of a number of Absa Premiership sides. Keagile Kgosipula was restored in goal for the CAF Champions League clash against Al Ahly on Saturday, with Masule suspended indefinitely.