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Chiefs’ shrinking sphere of influence

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. 

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Sport

Dambe, Tsotso dump Zebras

12th April 2021

Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.

The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.

It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.

Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.

Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.

Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.

Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.

Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.

Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.

A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.

Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.

He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.

“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.

Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.

However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.

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Sport

Galaxy star wants out

12th April 2021

Lebogang Ditsile has begun to cast fresh doubts over his future as a Jwaneng Galaxy player. The hard tackling midfielder has handed the club management a transfer request amid rumours linking him with Gaborone United.

This week, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum -to either improve his contract benefits or let him go- this comes after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy has arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P3000 until a time football returns to the field.Ditsile, one of the club’ highest paid players is certainly restless and would not want to entertain a second thought over his future.

Galaxy on the other hand is feeling distraught over GU’s constant communication with the player, and are also aggrieved that the Nikholas Zakhem powered team wants to prize away their asset. Ditsile’s contract does not expire until June of 2022.

The situation is not yet explosive but it is believed to have gotten under Ditsile’s skin and it is threatening to turn ugly. Ditsile apparently is the best thing ever to happen to Galaxy and to leave them at this point will surely be a great loss that could take some time for the club to recover.

However, GU is busy making their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be determined to complete the transfer before the season begins. It is said the player wants to play football without hustles, which Galaxy cannot promise at the present moment, and the allure of GU will certainly prove too much to stay from.

The team led and directed by Zakhem is reported to have promised ‘Tally’ a mouth-watering contract should he voluntarily terminate. It is however noted that GU cannot risk buying the player who is still on a running contract.

It is believed that Ditsile recognises GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. In the event of joining GU, Ditsile would have fulfilled his dream of playing for a rich paying club.

He has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but feels that the time is right to move on. It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with last season being his best.

The fan-favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, is still held by the terms of his contract while discussions between his agent are continuing behind closed doors.

Those close to developments mention that Ditsile is yet to be shocked by the stubborn position held by the Galaxy; but the club will surely hate losing such a prized possession to their fiercest rivals.

The Galaxy management has a reputation of being tough negotiators but for Ditsile, the offer from GU is one that should be impossible to refuse.On the other hand, GU are mindful of the tactics often displayed by Botswana players.

They have a tendency of bargaining through rival clubs so as to increase salary or force the management to act swiftly.

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Sport

Panic ahead of women champions’ league

12th April 2021

The absence of women national league in the country has caused anxiety and alarm at Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat. PIC: Soccer Laduma

This is the case because the inaugural COSAFA women champions’ league is about to kick start and BFA is expected to send the name of the team that will represent the country.

As things stand, the association is caught between a rock and a hard place because they are unable to determine the deserving team. The reality facing the association is because its women nation-wide league has never been played since the first corona virus case was registered in March of 2020.

However, the association has devised a plan and a model to opt for a team that will participate in the tournament to be held between November and December of this year. The play offs are expected to commence in August.

BFA has therefore called for an expression of interest from clubs to select the most deserving team.The expression of interest, according to BFA, should cover the club’s financial viability and ability to honour its games (both home and away) without fail. According to findings, the club will need a minimum of P100 00 to play a telling role.

It is therefore highly unlikely that BFA will find a women’s team enjoying such financial freedom. In any case, the association will be forced to offer financial assistance.Township Rollers, Mexican girls and Double Action are the few teams that can possibly be selected, but a huge question mark hangs over their financial disposition.

One other thing needed through the expression of interest is the current books of accounts which will definitely show that the club has been operating. BFA is of the view that this is important because it will help in showing the financial progression of the team.

“We are very pleased with how these events were organized under very difficult circumstances,” COSAFA General Secretary, Sue Destombes said in a statement.

“We take what we learnt in Nelson Mandela Bay into our planning for 2021. We have a full calendar of tournaments at this stage. We are hopeful we will be able to stage them all, even in these most challenging times.

The highlight must be the introduction of the regional Women’s Champions League, which will be a zonal qualifier for the new CAF Women’s Champions League which is coming later this year,” she further shared.

 

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