Township Rollers head coach Nikola Kavazovic is reported to have orchestrated a move that would see striker Jerome ‘JJ’ Ramatlhakwane falling down Rollers playing radar.
WeekendSport learns that the Serbian born coach called the Zebras forward to a one-on-one meeting on Monday to relay the bad news. It is reported that Kavazovic 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 JJ was not encouraged to fight for his position but was rather told that the trio of Joel Mogorosi, Mthokozisi Msomi and Edwin Moalosi are better players to be tasked with scoring responsibilities. Despite Rollers categorically stating that JJ decided to leave on his own, high ranking team sources told this publication that it is indeed the coach who asked the rest of his technical team to push for the termination of JJ’s contract. His contract was not expire next year.
It is indicated that not all that glitters is gold at the Jagdish Shah project. Reports from Rollers technical team further state that the coach runs the show alone. Issues of player favouritism have been raised but were internally dealt with. But the shocking departure of JJ appears to evoke the same. Msomi, nonetheless, is also believed to be close to leaving the club with Rashid Mandawa, former Rollers striker, is set to return.
The team is now believed to be eyeing Orapa United deadly striker Omaatla Kebatho as a possible replacement. This is a thinking made by club technical director Dragojol Stanjolovic, reports claim. Ramatlhakwane’s departure, all the while, is seen to be baffling particularly that he was seen as a better striker than Msomi – a South African export who was signed at the beginning of the season.
Some Rollers members say the future of the local striker was dulled by injuries and a confidence that refused to boom. He rejoined the glittering Rollers project a season ago after club blood rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs could not meet his salary demands.
Seen as one of the best strikers the country has ever produced, JJ’s football career has however been oscillating. He had his best moments at the Kgatleng outfit during the seasons of 2009-10 and 2011. But his football form took a nose dive before Centre Chiefs could sell him to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) based giants Don Bosco. JJ has won one golden boot of the elite league in 2007-8 with 22 goals.
Rollers insist that they signed him genuinely to revive his football career, but in the eyes the coach, he has proved to be an expensive purchase than turned useless to The Blues and the management. There are other reports that he was released to make way for hard tackling midfielder Ofentse Nato who has since penned a 1 year agreement with the team. However, Jwaneng Galaxy is reported to be monitoring the situation with keen interest, and soon they will rush for his signature.
Township Rollers sources however continue to insist that the player was still part of their plans but the former Centre Chiefs marks man grew impatient and asked the club to release him. Sources say he wanted more game time so as to solidify his stance at the Senior National Team (The Zebras).
Rollers coach Kavazovic has however denied reports that he axed the player. He reiterated club comments that JJ was the first to ask to leave the team because he of his personal reasons. “No it is not true that I sacked the player, he is the one who wanted to leave, he said. When asked if JJ is a good striker, Kavazovic said, “JJ is an excellent striker, but he does not suit our style, instead Joel is better in our shape, I however wish him success where ever he goes.”
The move is believed to have also hurt Zebras head coach David Bright who is rumoured to be fond of the striker. Those close to Bright say the striker forms part of the back bone of plans that ‘Fakuda’ wishes to undertake this year. When reached for comment, Bright refused to remark on the transfer of players.
However Township Rollers media liaison Bafana Pheto said JJ was the one who requested to be released and no negotiation with him could have made him change his mind. “JJ made a special request that he be released, he was still contracted to the club, and there was no way we could have let him go. He even preferred to abscond from Wednesday training,” he said.
Ramatlhakwane however has room to thrive though age is a definite factor. His link-up play with midfielders has always been impressive and should he complete a move to Galaxy in time, the mining club will benefit a lot. JJ can drop deep, orchestrate play, win aerial duels, and of course take penalties. But his tendency of missing clear cut chances has earned him the wrath of some Zebras supporters. His slow thinking at crucial times- is seen to be his greatest weakness.
ROLLERS STATEMENT ON JJ: Township Rollers Football Club would like to inform that the club has released striker Jerome Ramatlhakwana. The two parties decided to amicably part ways following the player’s request to leave the club after his internal discussions with the technical team and management. Although the club made effort to retain the player, a decision was eventually reached to cordially part ways. We thank JJ for his service to Township Rollers FC and wish him well in his footballing career.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place owing to the ever burning issue of mischievous spending at operational level.
While the association coffers have suddenly dried up, with some staff members getting the boot, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has threatened to place the Maclean Letshwiti led association under strict funding for unspecified period of time.
WeekendSport learns that the sport ministry is not happy about the financial status of the association and will want to act before everything get messy.
At the close of last year, the Ministry had to intervene for the Women National Football Team to travel to Ethiopia as BFA had no penny to cover for the travelling costs.
As if that was not enough, the BFA December wages were covered from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) purse, an abnormality that BFA is at pains to explain.
All these incidents, however, coincide with a time when the Sport ministry is putting in place a new revised modeling for funding. The model requests national sports associations to explain in details the why they will need funding for their calendar of events.
Moreover, the Ministry is eager to prioritize funding basing on the performance of the sport code on a yearly basis.
“Things have changed, we are not going to splash money like we used to do, and we want a code to explain fully how they are going to spend the money,” a source shared.
Moreover, we will be funding looking at the overall performance of the code, we are not going to fund just because it is football and it is loved by many people.”
At worst, the ministry will want the association to account and should BFA fail to balance their books, the National Executive Committee(NEC) is likely to be dissolved by the ministry.
Sources further state that the Ministry’s patience has actually wilted away concerning codes that abuse funds. In the case of BFA, sources point out that they are likely to get half subvention until everything goes back to normalcy.
On a good year, BFA subvention reaches P 5.4million annually. Should the ministry persists, BFA will start operations of the year on a budget of about P 2.7 million. It will not be for the first time the association finds itself bearing the brunt.
Sometimes in 2018 when Tshekedi Khama was the Minister, the association’s subvention were cut down to pay an old standing debt that amounted to P3 million.
However, high ranking officials at the association believe funds can still be accounted for and refuses to accept that they have been reckless when it comes to spending. The official who does not want be named is of the view that the association had to halt FIFA projects and concentrate on incidental expenses brought by COVID -19.
According to BFA expenditure, the CEO gets the higher chunk and that’s where most of the money went. A national trip to South Africa by senior national team has also seen the association spending close to a million.
Moreover, the communication department of the association is bleeding more money after a certain PR agency was appointed nearly two years ago.
Township Rollers first ever Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi has reportedly turned down an offer from Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the reins at the association as the new CEO.
This comes to the fore following the ‘always expected’ suspension of Goabaone Taylor in December 2021, on account of internal investigations relating to the misappropriation of funds that transpired before her eyes.
Sources speaking to this publication indicate that Taylor will eventually vacate her position, barely eight months after her historic appointment as the first ever lady to lead the often stubborn BFA secretariat.
Masterminds behind her appointment and eventual fall from grace wanted to therefore give Mamelodi an opportunity to assume the role, but the soft spoken administrator is reported to have chickened out, opting to stay put at Township Rollers.
It is not yet known why an ambitious man like Mamelodi’s feet will turn cold over a job that commands respect across football circles.
However, it is reported that the once rejected Mfolo Mfolo will have a second bite on the cherry after BFA president MacLean Letshwiti confided to his close allies that he was misled at a time when Mfolo was sacked.
The equally soft spoken Mfolo, who too has footprints at Township Rollers was fired just after the October 2020 elections for allegedly failing to take charge when the national under 17 was disqualified from the COSAFA tournament after failing the MRI test.
All the while, reports indicate that Mamelodi is eyeing the Botswana Football League (BFL) post where he made his name, but close sources continue to deny that the brother to Ashford Mamelodi will want to go back to Lekidi Football Centre given the manner in which his dismissal was handled about six years ago.
At the time of going to print, he could not be reached for comment.
As things stand, Mamelodi has been appointed as the project manager of BFL while holding the fort at Rollers. He is anticipated to provide insight on how the league can source sponsors for itself and run smoothly without struggles. He is also expected to erect a working structure for the BFL.
Mamelodi has previously worked with Jwaneng Galaxy as well as interim spells with Orapa United to help both clubs turn professional. He is said to be in love with what he does at Popa and it is why he is no longer intrigued by BFA political positions.
However, sources mention that Mamelodi will be tried once again but are skeptical that the man will agree to the deal even if it is mouthwatering.
Township Rollers veterans, who are reaching the end of their careers are hoping to part on high note, but the club has had a slow start to the season, playing second fiddle to its city rivals, Gaborone United. The Reds has won the first edition of FA Cup since 2012 — now under the sponsorship of network giants, Orange — to send a memo to league rivals that this season is not business as usual.
Rollers has responded in controversial fashion, firing coach Hassan Oktay after suffering the ignominy of being knocked out by top flight football rockies, Masitiaoka. The Blues have since appointed Frenchman Romain Folz to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware, an attempt that his predecessor, Oktay has failed early into the season. After clinching players with vast experience, the expectation is still enormous at Popa that all available cups including the league title should find space in their trophy cabinet.
Also, the club would want to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, once more. It is in this regard that Ofentse Nato is hoping for his own great leap forward in effort to end his injury nightmare. The no nonsense defensive midfielder has only featured once for the team this year owing to unspecified injuries. This is the first time, in his football carrier that Nato misses the first five opening games of the season.
His absence could have left Rollers struggling. But he too, could struggle to return to his former self, missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of a gilded trio of the club; Maano Ditshupo, Simisane Mathumo and of course Motsholetsi Sikele. But the teams’ insistency and promise to make a loud impact this season is yet to bear fruits. The quartet will have to stand strong otherwise the ambition mirrors a tomorrow that will never come.
As part of the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club. But all of them are on the wrong side of 30. Maano is 36, Nato is 32, Mathumo is 30 while Sikele is 30. Both Ditshupo and Mathumo are exchanging the armband while Sikele has almost lost his starting berth to youngsters. Nato is also slowing down and it appears he has seen his better days.
The talent of the big four should make the case for Rollers to finally make headline impact, particularly in the league and FA cup starting in January next year. Rollers coaches agree that as a unit they could find an edge and this band of serial winners glimpse glory. The sense all could awaken for the business end is enhanced by their respective pedigrees. All the four know the pleasure of taking Rollers to glory days, they also understand the pain of failing with the club.
Ditshupo in particular, has been the most consistent player of all in Rollers squad; it betrays logic why he was never called to represent the country. In the first five games of the season, Rollers have been nothing but a luke warm club. They have emitted mixed reactions. They started well, clobbering Lobatse Outfit, Extension Gunners by 2-0. Against premier league rookies, Masitaoka, they huffed and puffed, but the absence of midfielder Ditshupo was conspicuously seen as they were knocked out of the tournament.
However, the quartet returned to the lineup for the first time as a unit against Notwane in a midweek fixture. Rollers were not convincing despite winning 1-0 to return to the summit. Judging by their performance and age, the quartert might not play Rollers ball again next season as premier league retirement looms.