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BTC Premiership: 34 games, 43 goals

Although the Botswana Premier League (BPL) started a little late due to delayed contractual negotiations with sponsors, the first two games of the league have somewhat satiated appetite amongst revellers.

In fact, there is a sense of relief from different quarters that this season, powered once more by Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC), will be packed with excitement and action than anticipated. Seasons’ never ending transfer rumour mill, coupled with half-paced friendly matches have their place in football, but they were surely only ever going to be a tasty little snack before the sumptuous banquet which is a fresh season. Each team has played two games, and as of going to print, Orapa United, led by Zimbabwean Gaffer, Madinda Ndlovu was in pole position with 6 points, maintaining unbeaten record with defending champions, Township Rollers.

Anchoring the 15 teams is Security Systems, mentored by a local coach Thaloba Nthaga. It is still early days, but it appears The Alarm boys as they are affectionately called, are suffering early second season syndrome. They have played two games, and are still struggling to find a win. Big guns like Gaborone United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs have tried to bolster their squads, but each of them are yet to register a win in the first two encounters. GU looks set to be a better team, but two registered draws may as well betray this standing belief.

Centre Chiefs on the other hand has grouped experienced players on their camp. Die-hard followers hope that this may be a fruitful season, but a midweek encounter against Maun based outfit Sankoyo Bush Bucks ended in a stale mate (2-2)-a second consecutive draw that had followers questioning the readiness of Innocent Morapedi as their stand in coach. Township Rollers are breathing heavily on Orapa United’s back. The two teams who are now turning to be rivals are equal on points, but the bulk of the scrutiny is on the defending champions.

The need for news and views – not to mention wins in Molepolole and Francistown stadiums or wherever will once again become the all-consuming passion in many football lovers’ lives. Some will have reason to be happier than most. That is why Tafic and Miscellaneous are ecstatic for their first midweek victories. A logic decree is that the Premier League's usual suspects will have it all their own way yet 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 has a tendency to rise to the top. Week 1 of the season was the most interesting one. 18 goals were scored, and Edwin Moalosi of Township Rollers became the first player to score a premier league goal this season. Acting premier league Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Ntshinogang believes this is the most competitive season and there is likelihood that there will be a new champion. ‘‘It is tight and competitive and we might have a new champion at the end,’’ he observed.

He also expressed happiness that numbers are growing at the stadiums as observed during Rollers-Tafic encounter, Chiefs-GU clash and a game between GU and Jwaneng Galaxy. But beyond the shadow of doubt, the return of the Premier League third round – as wonderful as the first two laps – will signal several months of nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat tension.

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Ditlhokwe must avoid smugness at Amakhosi

5th December 2023

Kaizer Chiefs, one of South Africa’s biggest football clubs, has been facing a coaching crisis. In the midst of this turmoil, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, a local hard-tackling defender, has quickly become an integral member of the squad. However, despite his impressive performances, Ditlhokwe must avoid complacency and continue to work hard to secure his place in the star-studded team. TSHEPO KEHIMILE explores the potential impact of Chiefs’ frequent changes in coaching staff on Ditlhokwe and emphasize the need for him to maintain his high level of performance.

Ditlhokwe’s Rise to Prominence:

Ditlhokwe’s journey in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) began when he joined Supersport United on a three-year deal from Township Rollers. His talent and dedication quickly caught the attention of the technical team, and he became a trusted member of the squad. In January 2023, he signed a five-year contract with Kaizer Chiefs, one of the biggest clubs in South African football. His performances during pre-season matches against Young African and Township Rollers showcased his potential and promised a bright future at Amakhosi.

The Acid Test:

As the season progressed, Ditlhokwe faced several challenges. His first test came against Chippa United, where he and his defensive partner, Given Msimango, managed to keep a clean sheet in a goalless draw. However, miscommunication between the defense and goalkeeper Riyaard Pieterse led to a 2-1 defeat against Mamelodi Sundowns. Despite this setback, Ditlhokwe and Msimango redeemed themselves in subsequent matches, guiding Chiefs to a 3-0 victory against TS Galaxy and a 2-0 win against Stellenbosch.

The Impact of Coaching Changes:

Chiefs’ frequent changes in coaching staff can potentially affect Ditlhokwe’s performance and place in the team. The departure of Coach Molefi Ntseki, who had shown faith in Ditlhokwe, raised questions about whether the new coach would retain him as a regular starter. The arrival of Cavin Johnson as the interim coach saw Ditlhokwe maintain his place in the starting lineup, but the team continued to struggle defensively, conceding goals in matches against Golden Arrows and Cape Town City.

The Need for Consistency:

Ditlhokwe’s consistent presence in the starting lineup is commendable, but he must not become complacent. As competition for accolades and starting positions intensifies, he needs to work even harder to improve the team’s defensive record. Chiefs’ recent signing of his former Supersport United teammate adds further competition for the starting berth, making it crucial for Ditlhokwe to maintain his high level of performance.

Conclusion:

Thatayaone Ditlhokwe’s journey at Kaizer Chiefs has been impressive, with his consistent performances earning him a regular place in the starting lineup. However, he must avoid complacency and continue to work hard to improve the team’s defensive record. The frequent changes in coaching staff at Chiefs add an element of uncertainty, making it essential for Ditlhokwe to prove himself to each new coach. By remaining focused and dedicated, Ditlhokwe can solidify his position in the team and contribute to the success of Amakhosi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOBA battles turbulences to prime Boxing

5th December 2023

The Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA) recently organized a successful Boxing National Championships, sponsored by Maun Quarries and Tau Grading, with a generous amount of P100,000. This financial support is a welcome development for the boxing fraternity, as it has been almost a decade since such a windfall was received. The championships showcased the incredible skills of boxers like Mmusi Tswiigi, who achieved a remarkable victory by Referee Stop Contest (RSC). However, despite this success, BOBA acknowledges the need to improve and participate in international competitions to increase the chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

National Championships Success:

The Boxing National Championships witnessed outstanding performances from various boxers. Mmusi Tswiigi’s victory by RSC highlighted his exceptional skills and determination. Other notable performers included Rajab Mahommed, Maxwell Sechi, Thabang Chakalisa, Kerapetse Segole, Joel Kgogobi, Botshelo Thomologo, Otsile Mogobye, Mompoloki Sebula, Kenaope Boifang, Solomon Motshwarakgole, Keamogetse Kenosi, and Tshephang Moilwa. These boxers demonstrated their talent and dedication, bringing pride to the nation.

The Road to the Olympics:

Despite the success at the National Championships, BOBA Secretary General, Taolo Tlouetsile, acknowledges that more needs to be done to secure a spot at the Paris Olympics. Tlouetsile emphasizes the importance of international exposure for local boxers to gauge their readiness for such competitions. He recognizes that the opponents in international competitions are more active and challenging, making it crucial for local boxers to participate in various international events.

Challenges Faced:

The local pugilists faced difficulties during the Paris 2024 Boxing Africa Qualifiers held in Senegal. Most of the boxers were eliminated in the preliminary rounds, with only Keamogetse Kenosi making it to the quarterfinals. The lack of preparation due to financial constraints hindered their performance. The absence of training camps and exposure to international competitions affected their readiness and ability to compete at the highest level.

Upcoming Qualifiers:

To secure a place at the Paris Olympics, local boxers must now focus on the upcoming qualification tournaments. The 1st World Qualification Tournament is scheduled to take place in Busto Arsizio, Italy, from 29 February to 12 March 2024, followed by the 2nd World Qualification Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, from 23 May to 3 June 2024. These tournaments provide another opportunity for local boxers to showcase their skills and qualify for the Olympics.

The Way Forward:

BOBA National Team Coach, Thebe Setlalekgosi, acknowledges the talent of the boxers but highlights the financial constraints that have hindered their progress. Setlalekgosi emphasizes the need for proper training camps to prepare the team adequately. He expresses his disappointment at missing the International Boxing Association (IBA) Junior World Championships, which could have served as valuable preparation for future boxers. Setlalekgosi proposes a training camp from the first week of December until February to ensure the team is in top shape for the upcoming qualifiers.

The recent success of the Boxing National Championships sponsored by Maun Quarries and Tau Grading is a positive step for BOBA. However, the association recognizes the need for international exposure and participation to improve the chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics. Financial constraints have been a significant challenge, affecting the preparation and performance of local boxers. With upcoming qualification tournaments, it is crucial for BOBA to prioritize training camps and international competitions to give their boxers the best chance at success. By addressing these challenges, BOBA can pave the way for a brighter future in boxing and bring glory to Botswana on the Olympic stage.

 

 

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Mares 90 minutes WAFCON qualification

5th December 2023

Crunch time has arrived for the Mares, the women’s senior national team of Botswana, as they face a crucial encounter against Kenya, also known as the Harambee Starlets.

This match will determine their qualification for the WAFCON 2024 tournament, and the fate of the Mares hangs in the balance. Under the guidance of their new coach, Alex Malete, the team carries a slight advantage with an away goal from the first leg.

Adding to their confidence, the Mares received a major boost with the inclusion of newly appointed Zebras head coach, Didier Gomes Da Rosa, in their technical team. Da Rosa’s appointment as the Director of Football for all national teams, including the women’s team, shows the commitment of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to support the growth and development of women’s football in the country.

The history between these two teams is not extensive, with only two previous encounters. The last match took place in 2015 during the 2016 Olympic qualifiers. The Mares won the first leg 2-1 but lost the second leg 1-0, resulting in the Harambee Starlets advancing to the next round based on aggregate score.

Both teams have their sights set on making their second appearance in the WAFCON tournament. The Harambee Starlets made their debut in the 2016 edition held in Cameroon, and now they aim to secure their next appearance. Similarly, the Mares are eager to make their mark and showcase their progress since their last participation.

In the first leg of this crucial tie, the Mares faced early attacks from the home side but found their rhythm midway through the first half. Keitumetse Dithebe, an attacker from Gaborone United, broke the deadlock with a goal in the 37th minute. However, the Harambee Starlets quickly responded with a penalty kick just before halftime, leveling the score. The second half saw sustained attacks from the Kenyan side, but the Mares held firm at the back, ensuring the match ended in a stalemate.

The Mares can rely on the experience and skill of players like Refilwe Tholakele and Sedilame Bosija, who recently won the CAF Women’s Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns. Tholakele, awarded the Golden Boot, played a pivotal role in her team’s historic triumph, scoring two goals in the final. Her success highlights the significance of her contribution to the Mares’ campaign.

As the Mares head into this crucial clash, they must draw on their collective strength and determination. The opportunity to qualify for WAFCON 2024 is within their grasp, and they must seize it. With the support of their coach, the inclusion of Da Rosa in the technical team, and the talent of their players, the Mares have the potential to rewrite their own history and make a lasting impact on women’s football in Botswana.

 

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