The juggernaut that used to be Mochudi Center Chiefs is no more. Lurching from the sublime to the brutal, Magosi as Center Chiefs is popularly known have been anything but dull. The statistics of the premier league game say it all. Six games, no win. Are Magosi already losing influence? STAFF WRITER MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE examines Centre Chiefs’ downward spiral.
It has been evident for some time that there would be something serious at stake when the 2018-19 premier league campaigned started. But what was less evident until this past Wednesday was that Chiefs might fall into relegation zone owing to disastrous start of the campaign. That they missed out of the last edition of the Mascom Top 8 for the first time in 6 years was a first tip of an iceberg before reality sinks that trouble has finally arrived.
But as preparations for this season began, it would later become obvious that the team led by little known gaffer, Philane Mabhena failed to off-load pressure on themselves when recruitment was done. As things stand, it is becoming apparent that Chiefs played the first opening six games just to experiment and not to compete. It has never happened to a team that used to give Township Rollers a serious run for their money that they found themselves in such a dangerous territory-even when it is still early days.
It is hard to know where to start when detailing the key events in previous seasons that have not once offered moments of quiet stability. Chiefs have changed administrators, changed coaches, and changed the bulk of the team. Since a time administrators started fighting for the control of the club, the team never bought, but resorted to grasp young talent and it has unsuccessfully yielded results. On the other hand, they failed to nurture and protect them.
Since lifting silverware in 2014 -15, Chiefs budget could no longer be examined but it is a fact they have lost hordes of followers. All these pieced together are clear reasons the team is slowly fading away in the Premier League. Last season alone, Chiefs played better during the first round though with annoying mixed results, at the pricier end – be in form of midfielder Lesego Lubinda (now with Notwane) managed a couple of good games in the first round, then faded bafflingly; Assistant coaches Innocent Morapedi and Pontsho Moloi finally provoked boos from their home crowd before finding form while Thatayaone Ramatlapeng and Mmoloki Kufikwa remained equal parts heroes and villains due to their inability to convert clear –cut chances.
The team currently is perched on the 11th spot, with only three points and 11 full points behind log leaders Jwaneng Galaxy who are yet to lose a game. However, few at the team, or anywhere else, are still giving the team much hope of redemption after they drew with league rookies Prisons XI on Tuesday. The team undeniably put up a spirited performance.
But again ,at this point and given the way the team is playing, it is possible to look down the fixture list and predict, without seeming too outlandish, that Chefs might again struggle to break into the top eight bracket. The way they had been playing certainly offered no clue that they might somehow salvage hope from a run-in that would give a title-challenger pause, let alone a team facing relegation.
Chiefs’ media liaison Clifford Mogomotsi admitted that the team is indeed under a difficult situation. He cries lack of finances as well as unavailability of players who cannot play. “We have never hidden the fact that we are in trouble, we need finances to run the team. You must also recall that our foreign players (Morris Ruzivo and Terrence Mandaza) are yet to play pending work permit,” Mogomotsi said.
He also stated that their coach is facing similar problem of a delayed work permit. However, the turning point – the moment that should spark the revival that will give Chiefs unforeseen hope of avoiding the drop – will surely present itself in the Security Systems game. They will have to confront the team equally struggling to keep up with the pace of the league. Systems also desperately need to get back to winning ways. They are equal on points with Chiefs.
Magosi will hope that the winning against Systems becomes a moral boost before facing marauding giant in Township Rollers in the next fixture. But if anything has been learned at the Toronto outfit the previous seasons-by fans and staff – it is that players can defy expectations. Too many of the supposed new stars have been anything but or have revealed devastating temperament flaws (and rumours from well-placed sources suggest growing resentment among the old guard of players about the new mix of money and arrogance in the dressing room).
But, equally, some of the players regarded as likely to fail at the top level are expected to perform heroics. Phenyo Molefhe who fell out of favour at Police XI earlier last season, has been central to the team’s games particularly those that ended in a draw. Former player, Elvis Meleka whose tactical nous extends to orchestrating dangerous moves towards the opposing end, has chipped in with some golden moments. Conceivably, Chiefs loss to resilient Rollers will be acceptable but for them to be wiped out by new entrants will surely see them shrinking.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.
The first Mascom Charity Cup spectacular has come and gone. The football event played at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium saw four football clubs playing one-day tourney with various charity centres being beneficiaries of the gate takings.
While the attendance was not at the expected level, it is said that the sponsor has made a killing with close to P500 000 made from voting lines. Football followers were asked to vote for teams of their choice, and top four clubs were eligible to play. A single sms voting line cost P 1.50.
Gaborone United became the most voted team with 62 984 votes followed by Security Systems with 51 027. On the third spot was BDF XI with 48 596 votes while Orapa United came forth with 44 401. Shockingly, Township Rollers did not make it after gathering a total of 30 637 votes, with BR Highlanders ahead of them having seen 44 204 votes to their name.
It is said, however that, the initiative live to expectation as clubs together with the sponsor have managed to assist charities of their choices. Mascom is believed to be happy for identifying beneficiaries and getting value for their money.
The mobile network company is still the longest standing partners of local football, having first tasted waters in 2005. The company now powers the Top 8 competition and said to have renewed the dame sponsorship at a value not exceeding 18 million. The Mascom Charity Cup was not the first to be hosted by a mobile network company.
In 2018, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) hosted a similar event in which followers had to vote. The four participating teams were Mochudi Center Chiefs, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Township Rollers. GU were the eventual winners.
It is however not clear if the tournament will continue in the next football calendar, but what goes down into the history books is that Teenage Mpote and Orapa United were the first to win it. In previous years, there have been an off season tournament whose aim was meant for charity purposes. The tourney was called Kabelano Charity Cup and was usually played by four big teams (Rollers, Notwane, GU and Chiefs) without taking the voting routes. It was last hosted in 2015 and had Barclays as the sponsors.
Yet another thrilling showdown is expected between the country’s hottest strikers, Thabang Sesinyi of Jwaneng Galaxy and Thataoyaone Kgamanyane of Gaborone United, as the duo are eyeing for the 2021/2022 Golden boot.
With only four Botswana Premier League (BPL) games left, the race for the honours is rolling towards a thrilling climax, but for two individuals there is a race for an accolade of their own taking place that could easily go down to the final minutes of the season. Leading the pack with 19 goals is Jwaneng Galaxy talisman, Sesinyi who is one goal apart from Kgamanyane who has netted 18 goals thus far.
Both players have their eye on the golden boot, hoping that their respective teams have fixtures to put them in with a realistic chance of catching up, or leaving the other behind. The Money Machine is currently at the summit of the BPL log with 61 points while the mining giant, Galaxy are trailing on the third place with 49 points, having played 24 games thus far.
Both teams (GU and Galaxy) are expected to face each other towards the end of the season, as the initial fixture was postponed due to Galaxy’s involvement in CAF championship group stages. With 19 goals chalked up for the season so far, Sesinyi is just one goal away from Kgamanyane who led the race for the better part of the campaign. Sesinyi who is on freakish scoring form has scored four goals in his last two games; a hat trick against Prisons XI and a goal against Sua Flamingoes in the midweek fixture.
But there is no doubt that Sesinyi is no longer playing to carry his team, Galaxy, as realistically there is a slim chance for them to clinch the 2021/2022 season, but he is eyeing the Golden Boot Award when the league falls off.
Kgamanyane has begun the season in tremendous form; scoring every time he is given a chance, while Sesinyi, on the other hand, reached the peak of his form in the second round of the season; scoring both in the domestic league and also on the CAF Champions’ league group stage. He featured on team of the week on February.
Furthermore, the Money Machine attacker showed some growth as his conversion rate has been on a rising graph in the games he has so far played. Although Kgamanyane’s goal scoring prowess has been there for everyone to see, the player has been hampered by injuries. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the duo.
Meanwhile, BPL this week announced that they will hold the 2021/2022 awards. The league has since added seven new categories to take the total number of categories to 16. Among some new categories are the Defender of the Season and Midfielder of the Season awards. There are also two more awards for the administrators, as the league has included Team Manager of the Season and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Season awards.
The best performing players in this campaign will be included in the Premier League Best XI. Nevertheless, match day officials have also been recognised with the introduction of two more categories in the young Referee of the Season and the Female Referee of the Season. Furthermore, BFL CEO Solomon Ramochotlhwane indicated that the awards will be held on the 25 June 2022, just after the 2021-2022 season comes to an end.