When Isaac Makwala stepped up for the 400m race inside drenched Carrara Stadium at Gold coast Australia, he probably knew this was his last attempt to deliver home a medal from the global stage.
Distance memories of the 2017 World Championship games failure came flooding in the minds of those who doubted the ability of the 31 year old runner. After running a solo race, catching the attention of the athletics world, Makwala could not storm to the podium finish when he chose to run the 200m (instead of 400m) race alongside the company of South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk, who happens to be the race record holder.
But at Australia in the 21st edition of the Commonwealth games, without Van Niekerk, without Bahamas’ Steven Gardiner and without Kirane James of Granada, the roar was not the same. This time around, the melodious cheers of Tuesday afternoon carried a more meaningful weight than before. After so many years of failure, Makwala had a life and death opportunity to rewrite his name in the world athletics folklore. This is the same sport he has, from time immemorial, electrified with a burst of sheer speed and joy.
At Australia, few athletes knew more about time than they actually knew about Makwala. Even with the upcoming talent of Baboloki Thebe, it was no exception. And after so many attempts of failing to chase this ‘time’ down and probably exploding it into pieces, when Makwala eventually caught up with it, he tore it apart. He stormed into the finishing line alone with a time of 44:35. For all the good reasons, the eyes of the world were glued on this Botswana born runner. He came into this race as the overwhelming favourite. His eyes and body language told a simple short story of intent.
No doubt that in so many ways he had seen his final crowning moment coming. It was the one attitude- gracious winner-that he punctuated the victory with his trademark push ups. A race performed with as much aplomb came to a staggering end just under 44 seconds. “I am so happy that I have finally won what I want; I have trained hard for this. I am actually happy for Southern African countries, like Botswana and South Africa, they have now started to show dominance,” Makwala was quoted as saying after the race.
Statistically, Makwala came to this year’s Commonwealth games as the 8th fastest runner of the 400m race, but when the curtain finally fell down on his illustrious career, he was catapulted to the third spot in the history of the race. That was coming! On his heats and semi-finals, the Tutume born runner showed command and glimpses of dominance. He was never beaten; no runner on these preparatory races raised his hand to upset the phone book in the finals ahead.
One of the many things that Makwala has brought to this race of all sporting dramas is a sense of unfolding narrative. Because of his size, he has routinely started before his competitors, and then inexorably ran them down, but unfortunately too slow in the last 200m. What used to happen at the last half of the race, however, this time didn’t quite happen. For the first time, as he neared the line, relaxation showed on his face, he did not look like all the others. But the expression was quickly replaced by a broad smile of gratitude and relief.
At 32, Makwala’s career has never been much about to break records, but about proving himself as the flawless competitor who deserves worldwide attention. He is now the first Motswana runner of the 400m race to deliver gold. It could not come at a better time when he has rumoured to be eluding doping tests enroute to Australia. But for all the medals and the records, it is fun in its broadest sense, the indomitable overflow of pleasure, for which Makwala is now remembered for. He has dramatised all that human bodies might be capable of, and done so in a spirit not of “focus” but of celebration.
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.
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.
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.