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A world cup of surprises

A lot of football fanatics have been treated to surprise and sometimes shock these past couple of weeks. The 2018 World Cup hosted by Russia has had many if not all at the edges of their seats, leaving many questions than answers.

Germany for one has yet to find the many answers lingering in their minds. One of which is how they failed it to make it past the group stages, and break many hearts that day. A few minutes after Germany lost to Mexico in its opening game — not fortuitously, but deservedly— Germany head coach, Joachim Löw was informed that, in three of the previous four World Cups, the team that entered the tournament as the titleholder had fallen in the group stages. The coach seemed to have waved off the notion that Germany might go the same route.

But it came out to be true. France were crowned champions in 1998 overwhelming favorites, Brazil by 3-0, but 4 years later, The Blues  crumbled out of the group stages without registering a win. In 2010, Italy took the same route when they also fell on the same stage after winning the cup in 2006. The World cup champions jinx continued when Spain left the 2014 party earlier than anticipated. They won the 2010 edition.

This, as the last two weeks have amply proved, is not a World Cup where anyone should be offering guarantees. Germany, that great constant of international soccer, the permanent semifinalist, has long gone, to the raucous delight of Brazil and England and the more understated relief of the hosts Russia, France, Belgium and the rest.

Those nations that remain should have seen enough to know the dangers of counting their chicks before they hatch. Spain sacked its manager on the eve of the tournament and literally offered nothing. Together with Argentina, they were sitting on a time ticking bomb more especially that there was always a widening rift between players and coaches.  It surprised a few when Spain left the stage at the hands of tournament hosts Russia.  Argentina as captained by the great Lionel Messi struggled from the qualifying rounds right into the finals. 

It was not surprising when the nation called for the early exit of Coach Jorge Sampaoli. They were never at their best. Many were not astonished when France demolished them in the last 16 round. Even those contenders whose progress has been a little more serene — Brazil, France, Belgium, Croatia and England — can have little doubt that the old rules no longer apply. Brazil has played only in flashes but remains tournament favorites. France has conceded four goals, but also looks threatening.

The most impressive performances have come from nations outside the established elite: Croatia’s ruthless demolition of an admittedly chaotic Argentina; Mexico’s perfectly planned, expertly executed exploitation of all of Germany’s flaws. Colombia’s riotous return to form against Poland and unexpected fall from grace against the ambitious England.

But lo and behold, do not forget Sweden. They were out as the last games were played, but quickly turned around the situation when they frustrated highly rated Mexico to top the group. They are into the last 8 round where England awaits. This tournament, thus far, has belonged not to soccer’s great power- houses, but to its petite supposedly under dogs. Perhaps we should have seen that coming, when Argentina only crept into the tournament by the skin of its teeth, and when both the Dutch and the Italians failed to do even that.

At a time when the gap between the richest clubs and the rest has been allowed — encouraged, in fact — to become a chasm, international soccer has, refreshingly, blessedly, traveled in the opposite direction. It is more democratic than ever. Nations with less glittering histories — but good coaching, a sense of identity and players littered throughout Europe’s great leagues — no longer have quite so much to fear. The giants do not look quite so fearsome when you see them every week.

Of course, it is easy to say that after the group stage of a World Cup. The pattern of the tournament is familiar, and yet somehow forgotten, every four years. The first round of group games is cagey, cautious and offers little. More shocks are anticipated along the way. Uruguay is still a complex solid side. They have together with Brazil conceded a single goal and are likely to meet along the way.

It is tight; it is unpredictable as the last 8 teams battle for the ultimate crown. This time around the world’s two greatest players are nowhere to be seen. No Messi. No Ronaldo. Both players have won 10 Ballond’or titles between them, but it is not a time for history or experience, but a time for wonders.

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Sport

BPL NOT profitable – FIFA

19th April 2021
BPL

A study conducted by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), has revealed that a turnaround strategy is needed to make an elite league body, Botswana Premier League (BPL), a profitable entity.

The study piloted in June and completed in December of last year, depicts a picture of possible improvement where a total of 16 premier league clubs were examined and studied on how they conduct their football related businesses.

It comes out that 54% of premier league club revenue streams are from general sponsorship while a paltry 2% is generated from gate takings. A further 11% of profit is from broadcasting rights and that remains abnormal in a game that should be well known to be propelled by rich television agreement worldwide.

Moreover, BDF XI, Gilport Lions, Extension Gunners, Miscellaneous, Morupule Wanderers , BR Highlanders, Police XI and Prisons XI have all demonstrated a heavy reliance and dependence on sponsors, prices and monthly grants, while the quartet of Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, Township Rollers and Gaborone United have all managed to source revenue streams outside the common and well known sponsor outlets.

Of all the 16 premier league clubs, Jwaneng Galaxy emerges as the top club that is able to attract moneyed sponsors. The study shows that the Jwaneng outfit rakes about P 5 million in sponsorship revenues, followed by their ‘rival brothers’ Orapa United who receive an approximation of P 3 million per football season.

The two clubs are at the fore front because of the footsteps and presence of Debswana in their leadership radar.Coming third is Security Systems whose purse get around P 2.5M from the parent company, GU is on fourth spot at around P 1.5M. Township Rollers is on a distant fifth position with about P 1M per season of individual sponsorship.

The rest of the clubs receive services in kind such as accommodation, playing kits, training kits, fuel and water and soft drinks. This further underlines the struggle to make profit as footballing team in the elite league, the study highlights.

However, from the report, it emerges that only Township Rollers has the capacity to make profit from a good football season. Much of the club revenues are from the sale of its replica jerseys. The club as powered by Jagdish Shah sells about 3000 replicas at a value of P 350 000.It is the only club that sells merchandise from sport chain stores (Studio 88) and according to the report, it is a reliable indicator that shows fans engagement level with the club.

While it emerges from this study that ticketing revenue has a low weight on club’s revenues varying from 2-9% depending on the club, Rollers again is the only club making profit from this front.

But to further underscore the issue of lack of business sense in the elite league, it comes to the fore that there is low fan attendance per home game and this is the major cause of low ticketing revenue.

Gunners however top the table, averaging a total of 5000 supporters per game. Gunners is followed by Rollers at 4000 followers while Miscellaneous comes third with 1700 fans per home game. On average, it shows that 75% of clubs have a fan base while the remaining 25% have absolute nothing.

The report further indicates that many of Botswana’s elite clubs are experiencing financial difficulties because of the model of ownership.
“Clubs legal entity form is not homogenous and 25% of them are owned by the government,” the report shows.

The report therefore recommends that clubs should standardized ownership models as this will lose dependency on government.“Furthermore, legal conditions will be the same for all clubs and transparency of the BPL will be enhanced,” the report curtailed.

However, BFA says it knows nothing about the report but one member of the executive committee says the association is addressing all problems bedevilling Botswana’s game.

The member is adamant that all administrative loopholes of the game will be resolved and it is why FIFA project time for change is still on going at regional level.

8 – Numbers of clubs that make financial losses
4 – Clubs do not depend on gate takings
1 – club is self-sustaining

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Sport

Rollers rejected Ngele

19th April 2021

Nikola Kavazovic, Township Rollers’ pragmatic Head Coach, is said to have scuppered a move that was to see Botswana international Magokolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele joining the club in this football calendar.

Instead, the player proceeded to join Limpopo province based outfit, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C. carrying a long face.

It is reported that Shah, the club’s investor, had wanted to sign the left footed midfielder to bolster an attacking front but Kavazovic flatly refused to sanction the move, adding that his squad is solid and strong even without Tsotso Ngele.

According to reports, Ngele was to be offered a contract with a salary scale of P 40 000. Shah believed, and still holds the same view, that Ngele’s name is a powerhouse that was to further market the team and increase its brand awareness in Botswana’s business community.

However, Kavazovic is said to have told some members of the technical team that it is always difficult to coach and manage players who are favoured by Shah.

Ngele is reported to be nostalgic and would want to play for a home team in the stature of Rollers. As things stand, he is not enjoying his stay at Thohoyandou and it explains why his appearances at the club are an oddity.

Ngele had a successful season with Roller in 2012 where he won the Mascom Top 8 Cup under Mike Sithole. He was expected to be guided by Kavazovic to help mount a serious challenge for this year’s silver ware.

Rollers on its own have reshuffled their attacking options over a period of time, losing darling striker Joel Mogorosi to Gaborone United while another robust striker Teenage Orebonye was poached by clubs abroad.

Before the arrival of Kavazovic, Rollers’ technical team bitterly complained last season about the lack of productivity from their attackers but they hoped that the ever-consistent Edwin Moalosi and Ngele, aided perhaps by Segolame who remains in the books, can fire an upturn.

All the while, it is said Ngele will still force his move to Popa and there is hope that his personality and experience will eventually serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players like Kago Monyake.

Rollers have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their signing of Mogorosi few seasons ago was rooted, in part, by what he could bring away from the field.

Rollers still wish that Ngele could cut his stay and further negotiate with Kavazovic to sign the player and bring a country wide spread inspiration and determination he possessed after carrying the club to its inaugural top 8 edition in 2012.

That year he won the golden boot playing as a second striker. When he left Rollers, we went straight to command a starting line up with Platinum Stars. A year later, he won the Telkom knockout player of the tournament.

Some members within Rollers fold argue that Shah knew right from the start that he was not going to be able to control Kavazovic and his wishes of signing Tsotso might as well disappear on the furthest horizon.

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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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