The records in the first opening 8 games previously set by Police XI and Mochudi Centre Chiefs have been broken by determined Township Rollers in a BTC premiership they entirely dominate- once again. STAFF WRITER MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE believes Nikola KavazoviÄ‡ side will win their 6th title, and that Rollers’ rivals are in their death bed- too paralyzed to mount a serious challenge.
The once faint belief that Botswana football is a fallen giant is now growing into unfathomable reality. The BTC premiership is now seen by many as a fading image of what was once a promising competitive league- a picture only vivid in the memories of the older generation. Could that be true, or Rollers are just moving from glory to glory in their own league?
Eight games, eight straight wins. This was last year’s scenario; a similar trend that appears set to repeat itself. In fact, this is a new statistic set by Rollers in the last 9 years. Police XI in the 2007/8 season, won 7 games and drew 1 in their 8 opening games. The ‘Jungle Kings’ as driven by Sthandwa Mogwadi went all the way to reach podium finish. In the 2009/10 season, when Centre Chiefs were untouchable, they matched Police XI’s record and were also crowned champions at the end of the season.
This was a long standing barrier now broken by the Jagdish Shah Project, and by the look of things, no other team will come close to these statistics. This is not helped by the fact that Township Rollers enemies are struggling to maintain a card of dominance. Chiefs, well known blood rivals of Rollers have turned into a failed project and are now a team that many believe has failed miserably to finish what they started. In years gone by, the Kgatleng giants re-wrote Botswana football scripts, and unreservedly nurtured the abounded idea that football players have to be paid handsomely.
Between 2010 and 2014, they were utterly unstoppable; it was easy for them to rise to the top, but with time, it proved difficult to remain there. In this season, Magosi, as appealing as they used to be, are in a relegation quagmire with a paltry 7 points from 8 games. Gaborone United too played to deceive. Over some fruitful years, they assembled a competitive squad that won two Mascom top 8 titles, but differences and squabbles at boardroom level would soon trigger the team‘s fall from the dizzy high ways.
This season alone, a lot is expected from the side that used to give Rollers a run for their money. GU, a traditional rival of Township Rollers tried to be robust in the transfer window, but players recruited are yet to play as a unit. Moyagoleele has lost a single game thus far, but are already 11 points behind the champions elect. On the other hand, Rollers continues to raise the bar every season and the chasing pack fail to improve. There is significant evidence that these clubs are on their way back to misery.
There might be a considerable quality, verve and excitement in the league – and more than a glimmer at the end of the tunnel brought by both Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy, but these are new clubs still suffering from long term season syndrome. Both have won the Mascom Top 8 tourney- playing only 5 games to lift the cup.
Knocking Rollers off their perch already proved to be a difficult task for other premier league campaigns. There is no semblance of hope that the teams will put a spirited fight to ensure that Rollers is not handed the cup on a silver platter. This further fuels a view that the league is no longer competitive- where Rollers is playing against its former best.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.
Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.
The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.
He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.
The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.
Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.
Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.
“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.
It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU. His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.
No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.
It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.
Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.
However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.
Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.
This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!
Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.
His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.
However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.
When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.
But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.
Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.
If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.
But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.
But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.
However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.
Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.