Malawian for Chiefs job
For the second week running, the name Kinnah Phiri has been heard within Mochudi Centre Chiefs board rooms as a possible replacement for Bongani Mafu as the Kgatleng outfit is under duress to bring on board an experienced coach.
Phiri, a former Malawian player and national team coach is believed to be a front-runner in getting the Centre Chiefs plum post. Chiefs’ sources say Phiri was contacted and interviewed sometimes last week. He is said to have impressed the panel tasked with recruiting a competent coach. Phiri once spearheaded South African outfit, Free State Stars and he is seen as the kind of coach who can coax a winning combination for the otherwise struggling Kgatleng giants.
Despite the club's secret courting of the former Malawian mentor in the aftermath of the fall of their former coach, Bongani Mafu, there are rumours that there is great possibility that any other foreigner could compete for the post should Chiefs entertain a second thought.
Since last week, the club has been sounding out possible candidates though Phiri is understood to be confident he will get the chance to rewrite his own coaching career by leading a local club.
The possibility that Centre Chiefs, currently eighth in the premier league log, may not again mount a serious challenge for this year’s league honours had been mooted as a potential obstacle to Phiri's involvement. While that would have serious and or little implications for the club's attempts to balance the books where finances is rarely an issue, sources close to the negotiations have suggested Phiri would actually not be discouraged from joining the side, particularly that the league has just began. Indeed, he could consider it an even greater challenge.
Club spokesperson, Clifford Mogomotsi confirmed they are trying to negotiate with Phiri to work with former player Pontsho Moloi, together with long standing assistant coach, Innocent Morapedi. If everything goes according to plan, the trio, he said, will complement each other on the club’s technical dug out. “We have agreed a two year deal with Kinnah Phiri, an experienced coach whom we believe can turn things around at the club, if everything goes according to plan, we want to bring him into the country to watch our weekend game against Extension Gunners in Lobatse,” he said.
Nevertheless, owing to the reports that he is one of the most overrated coaches Centre Chiefs has ever contacted, other obstacles still need to be cleared if he desires to lead where coaches like Madinda Ndlovu, Mike Sithole have done a lot of work in the years gone by. Principal among his concerns is the amount of power he would be permitted to wield at Magosi, reports suggest. The sudden fall out former coach, Mafu had with Chiefs management of course turned a few heads weeks ago. Although he did not want to admit it at the time, he was equally frustrated by the club breaching the contract. But all the while, if Phiri is now committed to working with Chiefs, he would have to accept the existing structure in place at the former champions.
Phiri would have no choice but to accept Chiefs’ hierarchy and that further significant squad strengthening will take place in the next coming transfer window. Reinforcements however have been made in the central midfield with the addition and signing of players like Lesego Lubinda, Mmoloki Kufikwa and Lawrence Majawa. While Chiefs will only publicly address the coach situation next week, discussions have been taking place for some time behind the scenes and the club has sounded out potential replacements for Mafu who will be the fifth foreign coach to part ways with the club in recent history.
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It’s do or die for Zebras
The senior national team, the Zebras, is currently in Equatorial Guinea to for an African Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie. Before they departed, the team’s coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, had his troops train in Morocco. This was through the agreement between the two countries.
The agreement between the BFA and the Fédération Moroccan Football Association states that the two nations will work together to organize friendly matches between their respective national teams. It also allows the establishment of football camps for the youth categories (U-15, U-17, and U-20), this includes women’s national teams.
The national team has played over 180 minutes in its two qualifying matches against Tunisia and Libya. Currently, the Zebras, Lesotho and Liberia are the only teams that haven’t scored yet in the competition (this is correct by press time on Friday).
Before the match against Equatorial Guinea match, the local boys who were once known as the whipping boys of Africa in the early 2000s, were languishing at the bottom of the log standings in group J. They lost their first match away to Libya on June 1, 2022. However, they managed to salvage a point against Tunisia last year.
Before the team left for Equatorial Guinea, coach Mpote urged his players to focus on keeping their hopes of making a return trip to the AFCON finals alive after an 11 year absence since the maiden appearance in 2012. He noted that they would not allow their opponents to score and would ensure that they would get a draw.
Despite the various changes that have occurred in the two countries’ football landscape, the two teams have only met once before. In 2010, the local boys defeated the Equatorial Guinea team in a friendly match, which ended in an emphatic win for the visitors. Since then, the two sides have realised different fortunes in FIFA rankings, with Equatorial Guinea ranked 51 places above the Zebras.
Meanwhile, in their last six games, Guinea has only managed to win one of them. They drew with Rwanda and Togo in September 2022 friendlies. They have found the back of the net just twice in their six games. On the other hand, the Zebras, won one match against Zambia and lost four on their way to finishing at the bottom of the group with four points. At the conclusion of their previous AFCON campaign, the local boys traveled to Zambia and secured a draw.
Despite the recent results of the Guinean team, which have only managed to draw with Rwanda and Togo in their last six matches, coach Mpote is still confident that his team will perform well against the hosts.
According to the head coach, the local boys have the necessary skills and resources to perform well against any country. He noted that the team’s coaches have been studying abroad to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of football.
“Tactically they should also be ready. We need your (Botswana fans) usual support, when we come back from Equatorial Guinea, we will go to Francistown, and we will need you. You are our 12th player, and you are very important to us.”
OBED ITANI CHILUME STADIUM CERTIFIED
This week, the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Tuelo Serufho revealed that the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium will host the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the local boys and Equatorial Guinea. The venue had initially failed an inspection test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, following the completion of the necessary works, the stadium was allowed to host the match.
According to BNSC Chief, Tuelo Serufho, the various requirements that the stadium must meet included having a designated parking area for the media and spectators, as well as having signage that will guide the spectators. He also noted that the venue now has a world-class media area.
Jagdish Shah rejects Rollers society
Township Rollers, one of the country’s most decorated football clubs with 15 premier league titles, is finding itself in a precarious situation as its long-term chief financier, Jagdish Shah, threatens to dump them if the society does not bow down to his demand of forfeiting their 20 percent interest in the company.
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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon
Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.
He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.
The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.