|John Tlale © Backpagepix
The soccer-loving people of the Free State have another reason to flock to the stadiums in their numbers following Roses United’s promotion.
Roses are eagerly counting down the days to the kick off of their first season in the National First Division.
The team was formed in 2009 after buying the franchise of Mangaung United and at the end of last season won promotion to the NFD after a successful campaign in the Second Division play-offs in Polokwane.
Roses had also won the Free State regional Second Division championship in 2010, but failed to navigate the nine-team qualifiers – in that season it was Chippa United and Sivutsa Stars that triumphed.
It was in the 2010 play-offs that Vuyisile Wana made a name for himself, his impressive performances for Roses earning a move to Santos.
There appears to be plenty of talent in the Free State region, and a strong passion for the game – Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars play in the Absa Premiership, while Carara Kicks, African Warriors and now Roses all campaign in the NFD.
Roses will however not be competing directly with the popular Celtic for support, although they are a Bloemfontein side, the fan-base is located 50 kilometres outside of the Free State capital.
“We will be playing our home games at the Botshabelo Stadium. Its from the Botshabelo area where we get good support from the local community,” club CEO Phillip Ramabodu told PSL.co.za.
“It started when we had a good run in the Nedbank Cup,” he continued, “the locals really got behind us and we were able to put the club in the limelight.
“Now everyone is very happy that we will be competing in the First Division. Its exciting times for the club and for the fans, it will be a very interesting season ahead.”
The club plan to stick with what worked for them last season and wholesale changes will not be the order of the day.
“We’ll be keeping most of the squad the same. We’re looking to bring in maybe four experienced players. But for the most part our squad will be made up of Under 23 players.
“Coach John Tlale (former Mamelodi Sundowns and Fairway Stars goal keeper) will remain in charge. We’re more than confident in his ability to lead the team.
“He has already achieved our first objective – earning promotion within three years. Now the plan is to make it to the PSL in two years. The goal for next season is to finish in the top five.”