Township Rollers made a bold statement this weekâ€•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 selfâ€‘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 secondâ€‘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.”
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.
Township Rollers is anticipated to spent around P 50 000 to expatriate their foreign based players amid ravaging corona virus threats. The club, in collaboration with the Football Union of Botswana (FUB) tested Francis Afriyie, Fabian Assagou Guy and Kamogelo Matsabu before they can head to their native countries.
The trio are awaiting the results which are all expected to come out negative, following which they will immediately board planes to their various destinations. Afriyie was a Rollers striker from Ghana.
Matsabu, regarded the darling of the club is heading back to South Africa while Guy signed by the club but has never impressed, will board a plane back to Ivory Coast.It is likely that both Matsabu and Guy will return as they are still contracted to Rollers. However, Afriyie will not return after failing Rollers litmus test.
The striker failed to break into the starting 11 of head coach Frank Nuttall for the season and it appeared that frustration got to him. And when it finally knocked him down, the striker in a rough and unexpected remonstration stormed out of the bench while a Rollers game was on.
The former Gho Maria striker penned a two year deal in January and it is rumoured that his contract was heavily incentivized, catapulting him to being one of the highest paid players at Rollers.His end of season departure will now put a serious question mark over Rollers’ recruitment policy.
He becomes the fourth foreign striker to fail the club examinations and released while on contract. Before him was, Mthokosize Msomi from South Africa, Terrence Mandawa from Tanzania and Fabian Mbowa from Ivory Coast. Msomi and Mandawa’s release were sanctioned by former coach Nikola Kavazovic. Mbowa is loaned to Police XI to create space and playing opportunity for the now departing Afriyie.
Releasing Afriyie will now mean that the club’s striking woes continue. Rollers management complained at times last season at the lack of productivity from their strikers but they hoped that striker Tumisang Orebonye and other targeted signings, aided perhaps by Edwin Moalosi who remains on the books, could fire an upturn.
However, it was never meant to be as they finished the season second behind league winners, Jwaneng Galaxy.
Black Leopards head coach, Joel Masutha, is reported to have orchestrated a move that could see mid fielder-cum-striker, Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele, being dropped by Leopards.
WeekendSport has learnt that the coach summoned the Zebras former captain to a one-on-one meeting a month ago to relay the bad news. It is reported that Masutha told the player that he is surplus to requirement and therefore he will not be selected for any game unless he opts to leave.
Reports further state that Tsotso was not encouraged to fight for his position but instead was told that there are better players to be tasked with scoring responsibilities and helping the club to dodge the dreaded relegation axe.Ngele therefore is waiting for his contract to expire before plotting his next move. He is said to be torn between playing for one more year in South Africa and coming to Botswana to play for high paying Township Rollers.
The Rollers decision will once again hinge on his private business which he would love to monitor closely. He owns a sports clothing label where he already signed a two year deal with Notwane FC.Ngele’s career at Leopards blew hot and cold. He only enjoyed his stay when his former coach Calvin Johnson was at the helm.
He played in crucial matches and his stunning free kick against log leaders Kaizer Chiefs is still remembered by his followers.However, there have been many other factors at play.It is said Ngele’s future at Thohoyandou- a location where Black Leopards is based- encountered problems of many kinds. His future is believed to have been dulled by injuries and a confidence that strangely refused to bloom.
The player is also said to have broken ranks with Leopards management where he shocked them when playing for the senior national team last year albeit claiming to be suffering from a thigh injury. Ngele had signed a two year deal, but as things stand, the left footed midfielder is heading out as his contract staggers to an end. He is believed to be earning close to R80 000 after tax deductions.
The lifestyle and living conditions at Thohoyandou are also seen as factors that further complicate Ngele’s situation hence the sudden collapse of concentration in football.Ngele is said to be represented by Tim Sukazi who still hopes that the player’s breakthrough career is worth fighting for.
When signed by high spending Mamelodi Sundowns almost 5 years ago, he was represented by Mike Makaab, also a renowned football agent in South Africa.It is growing precarious for Ngele who was chained for longer spells at Sundowns.
But when a move to Leopards was announced, there was a high expectation that the player was nearing his revolutionary season.