The sixth time BTC premiership and also defending champions, Township Rollers are on the verge of clinching their 7th Btc title making it 16 titles on their trophy cabinet. Mapalastina as they are affectionately known within football circles are currently sitting on the summit of the log standings with 41 points after 19 games.
Mapalastina is the only club in Botswana premier league to have won 6 BTC championships since the local network giants took over from another communication mobile operator Mascom in 2008/2009 season. The Blues that was under the tutelage and guidance of Zimbabwean Gaffer, Rahman Gumbo went on to clinch the title with 78 points beating their closest rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs by 13 points on that season. Rollers became the second team to win the title after their cross-town rivals Gaborone United tasted the first BTC title during its first instalment. Then,the company was popularly known as be- MOBILE.
In 2010/2011 season, nothing really changed. The Gaborone giants defended the title, the first ever team to win the BTC championship back to back. The Blues were mentored and drilled by Zambian gaffer Wesley Mondo. From there on, the team went for fine tuning than tactical over haul. The Gaborone giants went on to win the 2013/14 season leap frogging BDF X1. Although it would later become controversial, it also became rather clear that Rollers were ‘defaulter champions’ more because BDF XI were docked 6 points after taking football matters to court. Rollers won the league with 67 points.
In the 2015/16 edition, more controversy over flowed. Both Rollers and Center Chiefs battled hard and long for the crown. Rollers were also docked points for fielding midfielder Ofentse Nato whom players status committee body declared that he was a defaulter. As a consequence, Botswana football association ordered that a play off game between Rollers and Chiefs be played. Popa thrashed their rivals Chiefs by 5-1 in a game played at Molepolole sports complex.
A similar pattern and story played itself out in the following season. The blues went on to scoop 2016/2017 title under Mogomotsi Mpote who was interim coach after Englishman manager Mark Harrison went to join Absa premiership outfit Baroka FC as Technical Director. Last season, Rollers were swashbuckling as they clinch all the titles- the BTC and Mascom top 8 cup.
Will they make 4 in row?
Of their recent form the blue machine has been blowing hot and cold, more especially after the arrival of Argentine coach Rudolph Zapata. The team began to score less than 2 goals per game and consequently their play form deteriorate with some senior team players questioning the Argentinean tactics. Indicators point out that Popa will be under immense pressure to defend the title, as the two mining giants (Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy) are on their neck. Lastly year runners up Jwaneng Galaxy is currently sitting on spot number 2 with 39 points while Orapa united are on third place with 38 points.
As the second half of the season gathers momentum, Popa find themselves battling double sided problems. They have lost most of their regular and influential players like Simisani Mathumo who joined his former manager Nikola Kavazovic at Free State Stars. Mosha Gaolaolwe and Gape Mohutshiwa joined NFD side TS Galaxy in South Africa while their experienced Goalkeeper Mwampule Masule joined Chippa United who lost their keeper to Kaizer chiefs.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.
Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.
The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.
He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.
The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.
Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.
Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.
“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.
It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU. His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.
No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.
It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.
Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.
However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.
Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.
This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!
Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.
His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.
However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.
When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.
But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.
Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.
If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.
But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.
But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.
However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.
Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.