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The brutal fall of Mighty Chiefs

Mochudi Centre Chiefs is a shadow of its former self, after years of flying high in the Premier League, it was certainly easy for Magosi to fall off those heights at the speed of light. STAFF WRITER MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE observes that it was bound to happen owing to the identity crisis it suffered.

When Mochudi Centre Chiefs rose to win back to back premier league titles during the unforgettable seasons of 2012-13 and 2013-14, under the tutelage of Zimbabwean mentor Madinda Ndlovu, not even their pessimistic supporters could have anticipated the ruthless fall the club would later experience.

While it is entirely difficult to chronicle the beginning of their downward path, it is crystal clear that a combination of poor administration and misplaced objectives are the reason the club has fallen from the dizzy high ways. It is noted with a disappearing delight that the success of Centre Chiefs in yesteryears was deeply rooted in the partnership hatched with business mogul, Sayed Jamali.

In the same breath it is noted that it was always a case of when, not if, Jamali would part ways with Mochudi Centre Chiefs. The reported troubled affair with Jamali as the major shareholder led him to end the hide and seek games they were playing. He did so, and immediately left the club in a dire state.

Bitter words were exchanged on the side of the Kgatleng giants; Jamali was seen as an able business man who could match the purse of Township Rollers investor, Jagdish Shah and could have achieved more with the Kgatleng giants. While the club‘s prolonged failure to make profit played a ‘telling part’ in the decision he had to make to move forward, the tropical issue these three past seasons, were never been about Jamali and his love lost with Chiefs, but rather about what happened to the Kgatleng giants since the struggle to find common ground with the society gained momentum.

It has been 3 years and the Centre Chiefs story has not changed. Magosi is further plunging into crisis without a competitive team. What falls on its own, is still the indication that Jamali‘s ghost haunts the training grounds and board room decisions of Mochudi Centre Chiefs. It would take a miracle for Chiefs to re unite with Jamali, yet them finding another business mogul for a sponsor is a dream difficult to achieve.  

The team’s various attempts to hold society annual general meetings after the departure of Jamali has appeared to have worsened the situation. At some point two centres of power emerged, and all were battling to administer the club. It is not only his absence that has a bearing on Chiefs demise, but also his ability to lure talented players with intriguing wages.

Simply, no one can underestimate the impact he had while at Magosi, and as things stand, it has become virtually impossible for the club to renegotiate with him. But an argument will always go unbounded regarding issues surrounding the management of the team. If Jamali’s effect has definitely been a factor contributing to Chiefs’s growing demise, most of the blame is shouldered by club leaders. A series of mistakes and struggles in letting coaches and players go further throws the Kgatleng giants down a dark path which will be difficult to escape from.

New campaigns have come and gone, all brought with themselves a new beginning. Coach Mike Sithole, the last mentor to win silverware with the club described his season as the most difficult one. But was it? It was indeed disastrous when Pio Paul was hired and expelled as the club assistant coach. Bongani Mafu was also hired to lead the club out of the woods. He could only manage a 7th position. Given the scenario at f the club, it was an acceptable position although he could not complete his mission because promises were broken along the way.

When Mafu reported for duty, little did Magosi know that he was heading for the exit before he could settle. Sooner, the club contacted and convinced Malawian born coach Kinnah Phiri to spearhead the club to redemption. But a month after signing a contract all hell broke loose. He complained that Magosi breached the contract and, as an alternative, asked that his contract be terminated.

They are now 2 points above relegation zone, and when the heart was ripped out of the club when captain and long standing player  Lesego Galenamotlhale was sold to Orapa United, all hope for revival is now gone. Worse still, Phiri has since disappeared without trace, and the club is allegedly eyeing either Philemon Makhwengwe or Pio Paul to re- awaken a dying season.

Whether Chiefs took a rewarding decision to give up on Jamali now with BDF XI, the facts are both standing and falling on their own that the business man, although with his own short comings was not a man to lose, and Magosi Still cannot trust their long standing society to lead the club.

Did you know?

Center Chiefs was registered in 1974.  Between 1999 and 2003, the club proposed to form an entity known as Mochudi Centre Chiefs Limited (MCCL). The entity was formed by a team of 13 adults who at the time convinced the general membership of the high level transformational elements that needed to be implored to make the club commercially sustainable.

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Sport

City turns to BFA tribunal over relegation

23rd November 2021
Premier league players

Botswana Football Association (BFA) arbitration tribunal is set to hear a case in which Molepolole City Stars is challenging the 2019-20 football season curtailment that led to their untimely relegation. The season was abruptly ended amid the ravaging COVID-19 scourge when the government decided to place the whole country under lockdown.

In particular, City Stars, under Somerset Gobuiwang, challenges the rationale and fairness of the association to end the league when there were several options to pursue. The club does not want to contest the authority of the national executive committee to stop the league but argues that the decision to relegate them based on the log standing was unfair, irrational and unreasonable.

Moreover, the decision was against the spirit of the game and not the most appropriate one under circumstances where they were still about 10 league games to play. As the papers were submitted, City Stars argues that the most appropriate step would have been to suspend the league and protect the league standing. “The league would then resume when it was safe to do so, as indeed it is happening now, with the log standings maintained as they were,” the court papers read.

The team, which was languishing at the bottom of the table when the decision was taken, also argues and gives an alternative that the league could have ended without relegation issues. City Stars argues, “This would be in recognition of the undeniable facts that the league was not complete and that the log standings at the time were not in any way an indicator of how they would have been had the league been allowed to run its course.”

Furthermore, Molepolole City Stars are livid that the association did not consider that the complainant had valid contracts with its staff and players and that such agreement could not be terminated abruptly. On the one hand, BFA said it was looking at three options before ending the league. Facts and scenarios informed each decision, and one was independent of the other, it was argued.

The first option, BFA says, was to stop the league where it was and crown the team that occupied the first place, which was Jwaneng Galaxy. Furthermore, three teams lying at the bottom of the table would be relegated, and teams on pole positions from Debswana First Division north and south will be promoted automatically.

By all accounts, the association felt it was a controversial option to undertake but also fairer for the sake of progress. The second available possibility was to stretch the season and consequently change the football calendar. “There has been a shelved proposal that recommends the change of our season from the usual August-May calendar to February – November because of health reasons,” BFA president MacLean Letshwiti said before making the decision.

The last possibility was to nullify all the leagues. This was — and continued to be — the last resort. Across all the global leagues, the domestic campaign had only 10 matches left, which could, in theory, be completed in the space of five weeks. In the end, BFA feels that a decision had to be made for the sake of progress. The dates of the hearing are yet to be made public.

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Is it time to take Piro serious?

23rd November 2021
GU

Pontsho Moloi’s character and football standing as a young coach have embodied simplicity and hard work for far too long. Moloi is a local bred coach who has so far threatened foreign gaffers with his coaching philosophy, a style that is exciting and irking football purists in equal measure.

As Moloi is famously known in football circles, Piro has coached a few different clubs in the homeland, but his stewardship of Gaborone United last season — going into the new one- remains his best memorable achievement ever. Before the 2019-20 season was stopped because of the COVID-19 outbreak, GU was one of the league’s favourites.

But as any self-respecting purveyor of sporting cliché knows, it is never a bad idea to keep quiet and let your football do the talking. The only hanging problem for Piro is that he has often wanted to let his talking do the talking — which is a shame since, by and large, his football, both as a player and coach, has spoken loudly enough.

Piro’s coaching resume is fascinating and worth the test for a coach whose career is barely two years old. He has presided over big guns, one staggeringly good debut top-flight campaign, one freewheeling title charge, and one dramatic league season. Yet throughout, he has continued to serve as a punch line, painted by a substantial cohort.

Now, three games into the current season, his Gaborone United side sit at the top of the pile, having won all their games and remarkably keeping a clean sheet. No team has scored more goals than Piro’s side. Is Botswana football finally ready to recognize Piro as an elite-level coach? In fact, why has it not done so already?

The answer is not straightforward, regardless of what some of his harsher detractors would want to believe, although it is true that he has often failed to do himself any favours when a microphone has been aimed his way. In today’s culture, it only takes one slip of the tongue — one tiny sound bite lacking in self-awareness — to make you look silly.

Piro’s model has worked across the board: promotion-chasing minnow, sleeping giant, trophy-hovering Goliath figure, and now an aspirational upper-middleweight.

In each instance, he has found a new gear, improved his team beyond expectation and created a side better than the sum of its parts, at least for a time. Young and veteran players excel under his watch. Attackers — especially hard-running and bloodthirsty centre-forwards, Thatayaone Kgamanyane — flourish like never before. And for once, he has needed big money to make significant progress. Yet even at United, the least tangibly successful of his last three jobs and one where things went downhill towards the end, he put together sensationally exciting teams.

Now at GU, pundits still ask whether he will last longer at the top or he will soon fall. His demonstrations this season speak volumes about winning a bigger and better trophy this season. Can he deliver, or time will tell? Part of the answer will come as the season wears on.

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Sport

GU, Rollers – early favorites

16th November 2021
Rollers & GU

Football giants Township Rollers and Gaborone United have emerged as early favourites to win the newly refined Botswana Football League (BFL), following a perfect start to the season.   

There is a sense of relief from different quarters that this new football season, still striving to secure a title sponsor, is set to be packed with more excitement and action than anticipated. Seasons’ never-ending transfer rumour mill, coupled with half-paced friendlies, have their place in football, but they were indeed only going to be a tasty little snack before the sumptuous banquet, which is a new season.

Each team has played three games. At the time of going to print, Gaborone United, driven by local gaffers Innocent Morapedi and Pontso Moloi, remains in pole position with 9 points, maintaining an unbeaten record. The club also holds another record as only to club yet to concede. Also, on pole position is Township Rollers, who remain of the favourites to clinch the title come season end.

Languishing at the bottom of the log is Extension Gunners. The Lobatse based outfit have already pressed panic buttons by sacking their coach. It is still early days, but it appears The Peleng Boys, as they are affectionately called, are suffering early relegation season syndrome. They have played three games and are still struggling to find a win, let alone finding the back of the net.

Big guns like Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy have tried to bolster their squads but have failed to stamp authority in their first three encounters. Galaxy look set to be a better team, but two registered wins and a loss may as well betray this standing belief. Orapa, on the other hand, has grouped experienced players in their camp. Die-hard followers hope that this may be a fruitful season, but a midweek loss against Police XI in their backyard leaves followers questioning the readiness of their technical team as the season gets hot.

Township Rollers are breathing heavily on Gaborone United backs. The two teams now becoming rivals are equal on points, but much of the scrutiny is on GU, whose defence might be critical to this year’s championship.  The need for news and views — not to mention wins in Lobatse and Francistown or wherever will once again become the all-consuming passion in many football lovers’ lives. Some had reason to be happier than most. That is why Sua Flamingoes and Masitaoka are ecstatic for their first 2021 victories.

A logical decree is that the Premier League’s usual suspects will have it all their way again. Talent galore and bottomless pockets of cash were enough to ensure yet more silverware ends up in already crammed trophy cabinets. The cream, as they say, always tends to rise to the top. Week 1 of this first half-season was the most interesting one. Eighteen goals were scored, and Thatayaone Kgamanyane of GU became the first player to score a Premier League goal this season.

Premier League Chief Executive Officer Solomon Ramochothwane believes this will be the most competitive season of recent seasons. “It is tight and competitive, and we might have a new champion at the end,” he opined. He also expressed happiness that numbers will grow at the stadiums as time goes on. But beyond the shadow of a doubt, the return of Premier League fourth round — as remarkable as the first three laps — will signal several months of nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat tension.

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