Township Rollers is literally 90 minutes away from breaking the often difficult psychological barrier of Botswana clubs that participate in the CAF competitions. The team has already defied odds after eliminating perennial campaigners’ Sudanese side Al- Merrikh.
As things stand, the club financed by multimillionaire Jagdish Shah has claimed the scalp of Young Africans of Tanzania. Prior to the ill- fated tie, book makers dismissed Rollers chances as Yanga looked like a dangerous side on paper. The team played 7 CAF competition games without registering a loss, but with the arrival of The Blues, history had to be re-written. Rollers entered their back yard and claimed a victory that simultaneously shattered Yanga‘s dreams. Rollers will play the second leg oozing with confidence after scoring 2 away goals.
Indeed there was an air of inevitability as Motsholetsi Sikele, one of Township Rollers’ less prolific players, scored the second goal to seal the victory on Tuesday evening. The Gaborone giants were lethal in attack, solid in defence, and comfortably moved ahead of Yanga with a solitary goal.
While it may take an extraordinary collapse by the Tanzanian side for Rollers to get within an earshot of the group stages, it takes nothing away from the fact that Rollers have had an extraordinary season. Recording more than 10 wins on the domestic league and have convincingly beaten Orapa United to lift their second Mascom Top 8 cup, and the emergence of some of the brightest talent in Botswana, means there is a lot to look forward to for Rollers’ fans.
If Rollers draw or win the second tie against Young Africans, the club will be the first in Botswana to play group stages. As the cherry on top, close to P5 million will be debited to the club account. While the players and the rest of the technical committee deserve all the plaudits, the man at the heart of the Rollers revolution is their president Jagdish Shah. A shrewd football business mastermind who is known to drive a hard bargain, Shah has been instrumental in bringing in talent such as Joel Mogorosi, Irvin Ntenge and Ofentse Nato to the club.
He rebuilt the team since the departure of one of Rollers financiers, Somerset Gobuiwang and is now plotting the club’s move to erect their own stadium somewhere in Mogoditshane. Moving forward, the main challenges for Rollers are managing the weight of expectations, putting together a good run in the CAF Champions League and keeping hold of their best players.
But with Shah assuming an authoritative role at the premier league coupled with enhanced revenue from the Champions League, as well as advocating for a new Premier League TV broadcast deal, there are enough reasons for Rollers fans to be optimistic. As their biggest rivals – Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United ― flounder, there could just be the start to a remarkable era In Roller’s history.
The Manchester United defender will now focus on his club career having made 93 caps for France, appearing at three world cups and on European championship. The Les Bleus won the World cup in 2018 and Raphael Varane started all but one of France’s matches in Qatar as they finished as runners up to Argentina
With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.