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Rollers’ pot of gold turns into silverware

Township Rollers made a bold statement this week―that they are still a force to reckon with, when they won a third successive premiership title and in the process completing a league double with the Mascom Top 8 cup.

There is a sense of gratification within a team powered by multi-millionaire, Jagdish Shah and spear headed by Serbian born coach Nikola Kavazovic particularly that the club is playing the CAF champion’s league game for the first time in history. Interestingly, Rollers spokesperson Phempheretlhe Pheto has composed a song for the club, which has virtually become a national anthem- reverberating in the hearts of those who love and hate this team in equal measure.

Multitudes of fans were seen singing this song Wednesday night after the team defeated Lobatse’s Extension Gunners by 2 first half goals, without any reply from the troubled young outfit. But it was always optimistic as well as faintly self‑effacing. When a sense of dominance came, 8 years after the club's last major overhaul of trophies, no patron of the now discarded Mmamasire grounds would have expected it to arrive on such an engulfing tide of money.

Jwaneng Galaxy fans will scoff and say Rollers have bought the third consecutive trophy on Botswana football. In essence, they are saying Rollers has bought its way to the top by assembling an expensive squad. Mutual appreciation was bound to be rare as both high paying clubs took possession of the trophy moments before the kickoff time. It therefore took 90 minutes to separate the two. And Rollers became the ultimate winners.

Big-money players may have arrived at the Gaborone giants but it still required a feat of experimentation by coach Kavazovic to blend so many disparate capabilities. Kavazovic's diary of the season would be a red-hot read. There have been weeks when you suspected them of conducting a random supermarket trolley dash but the club insists every buy is planned with a chart to hand.

Joel Mogorosi once tested the management’s patience following his brawl with competitors. He was angry that he was not protected when he sustained an injury that nearly ended his career. While serving suspension, Rollers took a rather surprising stand that the player would not be getting his salary until the time the deferment ended.

Yet Kavazovic and Rollers have made more good calls than bad. Tshepo Motlhabankwe, who was born to move, has been kept under control sufficiently for him to have been Roller's best right back player; yes Joel Mogorosi still looks a good bet, despite disciplinary lapses; Simisani Mathumo is the second‑best centre-half after Orapa’s Thabang Mosige; Mwampule Masule has recovered his concentration in goal; Segolame Bouy brings class to the midfield and Captain Maano Ditshupo power, close control and commitment have scattered a lot of opponents.

Frequent speculation about the future and a lack of professionalism on the part of some players (Mthokosizi Msomi) cast Kavazovic at times as the stern headmaster trying to quell a school riot but he has never deviated from his aim of making Rollers more organized and resolute.

But honestly, a winning mentality has always been among the virtues he inherited at a club whose last major flourish was in 2010. But the three players who won that league together with the Coca- Cola cup were still instrumental to the team’s current rise. Joel Mogorosi, Edwin Moalosi together with Mathumo were playing 8 years ago as they are today.

The only dark cloud hovering upon Kavazovic’s success in his widely spread fall out with assistant coach Mogomotsi Mpote. After winning the cup, the gaffer spoke for the first time about Mpote that “Rollers started winning after Mpote left.” He continued, “he is only there because he has a license.”

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Botswana ranked 4th in Zone 4 boxing tourney

4th May 2022
Boxing

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.

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Mascom Charity Cup raised P500K

4th May 2022
Mascom Charity Cup

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.

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Golden boot race intensifies

4th May 2022
Sesinyi vs Kgamanyane

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.

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