GU plays hardball on Zapata
Gaborone United (GU) threatens to intensify and throw its rivalry against premier league champions Township Rollers out of the playing field as they contemplate to delay Rudolph Zapata’s new agreement ahead of the much anticipated derby slated for this weekend.
Zapata signed a two-year contract as head coach of Rollers, but sources say his move has irked GU high ranking officials who are preparing to re-open a closed chapter. It is reported that Zapata signed a six-month deal with Kenyan based outfit AFC Leopards a season ago while he had a running contract with GU. Informants claim his offer was to expire next year June.
While his questionable switch to Leopards is still a subject of heated discussion at the heart of The Reds, the club is said to be more disturbed by Zapata’s attitude whom they accuse of ‘silent treatment’. GU club officials believe they have a legal case against the Argentine. They claim Zapata is yet to furnish them with concrete answers after dumping the club to guide a Kenyan out-fit.
On one hand, those close to Zapata and also fighting in Rollers’ corner say GU is out to frustrate their former coach and are actually irritated by the fact that he has joined their number enemy. They say GU has no leg to stand on more because they failed to adhere to Zapata’s contract before he dumped them to AFC Leopards.
GU are steadfast on the confidence that Zapata is still their man and do not harbor any sinister motives to block the Argentinean gaffer to accept a new involvement at high-flying Rollers. GU indicates that they expect Rollers to write a formal communication to the effect that Zapata has been recruited to a new home. As things stand, Zapata’s wish to drill Mapalastine will be prolonged because his work permit as provided for by the country’s immigration offices, are with GU.
In fact, it is GU who have to hand in a release letter to Rollers to finally conclude the matter. WeekendSport has also uncovered that in April 18, 2017, Zapata asked GU to release him from his contract as he was heading to a new challenge outside the country.
The then United general manager Olebile Sikwane accepted and signed to release the coach.
The Argentinean gaffer in the meantime, continued to demand his unpaid dues which he claims could be traced from the first 9 months since appending his signature of the contract. When reached for clarity, Township Rollers spokesperson Phempheretlhe Pheto agreed that they have contacted and negotiated with Zapata to replace the controversial Nikola Kavazovic. He however explains that GU has to stop mind games and release the mentor.
“New coach Zapata was introduced to the players on Monday and watched the team’s training, but we do not know the exact time he will officially assume his new role because of work permit issue. He can never be granted a new permit because the government has already issued it under GU. We therefore expect GU to comply,” he explained. The whole issue is seen as a football conspiracy that has sparked much rivalry between two Gaborone based outfits.
Observers say it is GU who are baying for Rollers blood after Jagdish Shah prized away three of GU influential players last season to his club. GU chairman Boitumelo Nsunge dined that they are out to block Zapata’s move to Rollers. However, he was quoted elsewhere saying, “first of all we have a new coach, secondly, Rollers should show respect and write, and forget about phone calls.”
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The senior national team, the Zebras, is currently in Equatorial Guinea to for an African Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie. Before they departed, the team’s coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, had his troops train in Morocco. This was through the agreement between the two countries.
The agreement between the BFA and the Fédération Moroccan Football Association states that the two nations will work together to organize friendly matches between their respective national teams. It also allows the establishment of football camps for the youth categories (U-15, U-17, and U-20), this includes women’s national teams.
The national team has played over 180 minutes in its two qualifying matches against Tunisia and Libya. Currently, the Zebras, Lesotho and Liberia are the only teams that haven’t scored yet in the competition (this is correct by press time on Friday).
Before the match against Equatorial Guinea match, the local boys who were once known as the whipping boys of Africa in the early 2000s, were languishing at the bottom of the log standings in group J. They lost their first match away to Libya on June 1, 2022. However, they managed to salvage a point against Tunisia last year.
Before the team left for Equatorial Guinea, coach Mpote urged his players to focus on keeping their hopes of making a return trip to the AFCON finals alive after an 11 year absence since the maiden appearance in 2012. He noted that they would not allow their opponents to score and would ensure that they would get a draw.
Despite the various changes that have occurred in the two countries’ football landscape, the two teams have only met once before. In 2010, the local boys defeated the Equatorial Guinea team in a friendly match, which ended in an emphatic win for the visitors. Since then, the two sides have realised different fortunes in FIFA rankings, with Equatorial Guinea ranked 51 places above the Zebras.
Meanwhile, in their last six games, Guinea has only managed to win one of them. They drew with Rwanda and Togo in September 2022 friendlies. They have found the back of the net just twice in their six games. On the other hand, the Zebras, won one match against Zambia and lost four on their way to finishing at the bottom of the group with four points. At the conclusion of their previous AFCON campaign, the local boys traveled to Zambia and secured a draw.
Despite the recent results of the Guinean team, which have only managed to draw with Rwanda and Togo in their last six matches, coach Mpote is still confident that his team will perform well against the hosts.
According to the head coach, the local boys have the necessary skills and resources to perform well against any country. He noted that the team’s coaches have been studying abroad to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of football.
“Tactically they should also be ready. We need your (Botswana fans) usual support, when we come back from Equatorial Guinea, we will go to Francistown, and we will need you. You are our 12th player, and you are very important to us.”
OBED ITANI CHILUME STADIUM CERTIFIED
This week, the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Tuelo Serufho revealed that the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium will host the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the local boys and Equatorial Guinea. The venue had initially failed an inspection test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, following the completion of the necessary works, the stadium was allowed to host the match.
According to BNSC Chief, Tuelo Serufho, the various requirements that the stadium must meet included having a designated parking area for the media and spectators, as well as having signage that will guide the spectators. He also noted that the venue now has a world-class media area.
Jagdish Shah rejects Rollers society
Township Rollers, one of the country’s most decorated football clubs with 15 premier league titles, is finding itself in a precarious situation as its long-term chief financier, Jagdish Shah, threatens to dump them if the society does not bow down to his demand of forfeiting their 20 percent interest in the company.
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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon
Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.
He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.
The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.