There appears to be a major crisis for Rudolph Zapata and Township Rollers — the question now is how much longer the hierarchy at the Gaborone giants is prepared to put up with it. Already the defending champions are said to have given their newly recruited head coach a 6 months contract to rescue his future after assuming his coaching responsibilities a week ago.
The agreement as short as it is, request the Argentinean gaffer to claim the title championship as well as defending the Mascom Top 8 Cup. Zapata’s involvement is already ruffling is few feathers at Rollers. A section of Rollers committee members and some supporters believe Zapata is leading them down the cliff with his old football philosophy. This publication further understands that Rollers management had never identified Zapata as a perfect mentor to supplant award winning Nikola Kavazovic who left for greener pastures.
It is reported that Rollers’ committee was over ruled by their president and club financer Jagdish Shah on his appointment. Zapata, according to reports, was interviewed and hired by Shah while in America. At that point, the committee was said to be in the dark about what was going on. Feeling betrayed and beaten, some members fought hard and long to block Zapata from managing the log leaders.
This explains why the Argentinean’s credentials were placed under inspection by the association’s Technical Director, Serame Letshwaka. Bafflingly, this scrutiny has never been administered on any coach at Lekidi football center. So far has the stock of Zapata fallen that some inside Township Rollers considers it an act of kindness to cut his brief reign while he is still fighting to stamp authority.
They are seeing him suffering, and feel no wish to see his reputation further damaged by the kind of feeble performance he oversaw at a premier league game against Notwane last week Friday. There is a growing sense that he now needs saving from cruelty and ridicule, that is why his contract was cut from two years to just only six months.
Before the club's pursuit of another coach emerged, the plan was for the Argentinean to end the season and then have a review on his applications. This campaign was said to be led by club chairperson and some influential members of the committee. The committee is said to be intent that if it decides at this point to let Zapata go, there should be a candidate in place who has agreed terms and would be ready to take over immediately to prepare and propel Rollers back to challenging top honors.
This is the strategy under which a new coach is approached. Zapata’s position grew more precarious once the team started recording poor results even on their back yard. The management still feels that the gaffer was destroying their style of play hence players failing to cope. Rollers have never scored more than 2 goals since the departure of Kavazovic.
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Butler arrives at GU: Should Piro fear for his job?
The arrival of former Zebras coach Peter James Butler is believed to have unsettled incumbent coach Pontsho Moloi.
While Nicolas Zakhem has denied that the former Zebras head coach could be taking over the reins in the dugout, WeekendSport has established that Pontsho ‘Piro’ Moloiâ€™s contract will end in June.
GU Communication Manager Herbert Letsebe informed this publication yesterday [Friday] that they are still in negotiations with coach Moloi as his contract expires at the end of June. Letsebe stated that the club values Moloi, whom they see as an energetic and ambitious coach with a great future ahead of him.
Nonetheless, the defending premier league champions, Gaborone United, made an official announcement this week that they have appointed the Briton-born gaffer as the new Director of Football at the club. Butler’s main responsibility will be to oversee all the structures at the club, including both the senior and women’s teams.
In 2019, WeekendSport reported that Butler, who is a close friend of Zakhem, was seriously considering joining GU as the technical director.
When speaking to the Gaborone United media team this week, Butler said: “I never stop learning; I am always looking to learn. If I can help him (Pontsho) become a better coach, a better person, if I can help him one day to go on and represent the country at the national team level, great, that would be wonderful.”
“I am not here to take his job; I can categorically state that. I am here to help Pontsho Moloi. I have always said that I wouldn’t come back and coach here at the domestic level, but I would coach in a more director development sense. He (Pontsho Moloi) has a lot of positives. He has areas where he needs to work on. If I can help him brush up in those areas, great stuff.”
Furthermore, the club director Zakhem announced restructuring changes within the technical team in February, elevating Moloi to the role of head coach while Benny Kgomela was redeployed to the position of General Manager (Technical), with his main role being to oversee issues relating to the senior team, ladies team, developmental sides, and other technical matters of the teams.
Kgomela, who joined Moyagoleele in August 2022 on a one-year contract, will also will leave the club at the end of this month. Kgomela will follow the path of former Head Coach Innocent Morapedi, who parted ways with The Reds this week.
However, investigations by this publication depict a trend in which coaches who are usually appointed as Technical Directors are elevated to the head coach positions, pushing out the current head coach at the time.
Normally, when that time comes, a common theme of “parted ways amicably with our coach with immediate effect” becomes the norm for premier clubs, with the reasons for such changes not known as they are not normally revealed to third parties.
In 2021, Orapa United Football Club brought in Philemon Makhwengwe as a Technical Director with responsibilities including collaborating with the head office to provide technical input, improving the youth structures, developing an improved youth football syllabus, mentoring upcoming coaches, leading the team into CAF club competitions, talent identification, evaluation mechanisms, and superior strategic thinking for team design and devising future plans.
Da Phil, as he is affectionately known, was later appointed as the head coach of the club.
Meanwhile, The Reds have so far lost two games in the current season, the same number of losses they suffered last year. GU’s chances of defending the title they won after 13 seasons are now slim, as they trail Jwaneng Galaxy by five points with only two rounds to play.
Based on this, it remains to be seen if Coach Piro will be at the helm of the plum post when the 2023/2024 football season starts in August.
Ditlhokwe begins new era at Kaizer chiefs
Botswana International, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, donned the Supersport United jersey for the last time when they lost 1-0 to Sekhukhune United this past weekend.
During the transfer window, the 24-year-old lanky defender signed a pre-contract with the Soweto giants, Kaizer Chiefs, and he is set to start his new lease of life on the 1st of July 2023.
‘TT,’ as he is affectionately known, was introduced to South African football back in 2019 when Supersport United secured his services for a period of three years from Gaborone United. The young lad never looked back as he instantly broke into the starting eleven and quickly became one of the trusted members of the squad.
In the 2022/23 campaign, the Gulubane-born player played 2286 minutes, scored two times, and collected five yellow cards, which is fair for a defender of his calibre.
Still in this campaign, United missed the chance to play in the CAF Confederations Cup as they finished 3rd in the league. Prior to that, they were knocked out by Dondol Stars (2-1) in the Nedbank Cup round of 32.
Meanwhile, Amakhosi had a season to forget as they recorded mixed results, which were caused by a number of factors, including the lack of a well-structured defence, thus affecting their results.
Back in January 2023, Chiefs were hammered 4-0 by Amazulu as their defence was found ailing all the time, raising questions about whether the local lad could be the answer to their defensive woes.
Amakhosi’s central defense boasts players such as Zitha Kwinika, Edmilson Dove, Njabulo Ngcobo, Austin Dube, and Siyabonga Ngezana. Eric Mathoho will leave the club after 11 years.
In this tough aforementioned competition, TT will be looking to use the experience he gained at United to try and cement his place in the team, as he was sometimes used at left-back because of his versatility.
Additionally, being the captain of the Botswana National football team for the past three years will also come in handy as Chiefs will be gunning for every trophy on offer in the coming season, hence there will be high pressure and competition for places in the team.
In an interview with this publication, football analyst Thato Kgosimore said Ditlhokwe’s stay at Supersport United was successful as he managed to attract interest from one of the biggest clubs in the country.
“Ditlhokwe’s stay at Supersport United was commendable. He arrived and cemented a place in the starting eleven and was also amongst the leaders in the team, which helped excel in his role in the national team,” Kgosimore said.
“Furthermore, he will be joining Chiefs in the coming months, and I expect him to continue where he left off at Supersport United, regardless of the pressure that comes with playing for Chiefs.”
Kgosimore added that Chiefs is a big team and a great platform for Ditlhokwe to even go to Europe.
“Chiefs is a big team, and Ditlhokwe stands a better chance of plying his trade in Europe. However, that will be determined by his level of commitment and consistency at his new club, which I believe he will do diligently. I wish him all the best of luck,” added Kgosimore.
Meanwhile, Ditlhokwe told Sowetanlive that being a captain of the Botswana national team has prepared him to deal with any kind of football-related pressure.
â€śI have captained my national team at the age of 21 so I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s any pressure that can [surpass] what I have been already through,â€ť Ditlhokwe said during SuperSportâ€™s 2022-23 awards ceremony on Monday.
â€śItâ€™s just a normal challenge that every player can face. Thereâ€™s no player that can grow without challenges â€” you need to be tested. â€śItâ€™s a big test, I know but at the end of the day the same way I managed before is the same way Iâ€™m going to manage [at Chiefs].â€ť
Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.