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Our Nijel Back to Glory

Following a year and half frustrated in the dumps, running sensation Nijel Amos has recaptured his glory and is threatening to overhaul the dynamics of the 800m race at the IAAF World Championships next month. Amos has proven he still has fires to burn, just as he did at the 2012 London Olympics whilst a teenager.

Amos became a shadow of himself in recent years, recording far-between victories in less significant competitions. His biggest frustration was at last year’s Olympics when he faded out in the semifinals clocking 1:50.46.  Now with athletics’ prestigious competition on sight, the 23 year old is back on tune and it couldn’t be more upbeat that this. “This is the Nijel we were familiar with 2/3 years ago. The man from Botswana is back and this could be a special summer for the 800m,” an enthralled commentator charged as Amos marked his return with his 1:43.18 record times at the same track he emblazoned his name at in 2012.

With athletics gurus applauding the Marobela born runner for finding his gear at the right time, another nail biting two laps is on offing next month. Projections are that athletics fanatics will be treated to another great 800m race in London since that historic night five years ago in the same city he chased his archenemy David Rudisha at. “I’m done with preparations race, I’m done and waiting for the World Championships,” Amos told this paper this week.

Amos’ record times are proving his naysayers who argue that he reached career ceiling at a tender age wrong. Since making his return to the track, he has been on the lips of many as the World Championships dates gather pace. He made his presence felt by clocking 1:44.24 at the Paris Diamond League. He consolidated his performance in London by clocking 1; 43.18 which is by far world leading in the category. “He is picking up at the right time which is good for him and the nation,” athletics coach Oabona Theetso said of the 23 year old.

Last weekend he reiterated the showing clocking 1:43.91 in Rabat. Now everyone is yearning for the championships to witness a duel between East and Southern Africa. But Zorro, as he is affectionately known has on numerous occasions defied the best of East Africa as well as Europe. Amos has in two events outpaced Rudisha and former World Champion Mohamed Amman and it could be another chance for the local charge to strike when it matters most this time around. Amos clocked a time of 1.43.27 to Rudisha’s 1.43.76 in the 2014 Diamond league. In the 2015 Commonwealth Games he did it again clocking 1:45.18 while the Kenyan recorded 1:45.48. However, in 2015 at the World Championships, he could not do repeat his victory but   finished disappointingly in the last position 1:47.96.

Rudisha's winning time in 2015 of 1: 45.84 seconds was almost five seconds outside the time he set in winning gold in 2012, but this was less about times and more about ending a barren run that stretched back almost as that far. In last year’s Olympics he recorded a 1:42.6. Since age is catching up with Rudisha, it is possible that Amos can dethrone the Kenyan as the 800m king.

This time around the lanky 29 year old is doing his rehearsals in Kenya, while Amos is based in USA; a victory against the Kenyan is a burning desire for the local lad. However it is his 1:43,18 which is also the world leading time thus far in 800m which should send shock waves across other runners building up to the spectacle. A probability curve is shaping well in favor of the athlete more so he has changed the tactic now.

Instead of chasing he prefers being the pace setter, a tactic used by among others Rudisha and it has paid dividends up to now. Completing the first lap under 50 or just after 50 seconds is another tick in the runner’s upward curve. This year’s World Championship edition will be Amos’ second after 2015. The London event presents an opportunity for the runner to once again add another prestigious medal to his collection.  

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KBL closure scuppers BFA deal

25th January 2021
Football

The negotiations involving Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) over elite league sponsorship have suffered a setback as the local brewer this week took what it termed a ‘difficult’ decision to shut down operations.

This effectively means that football sponsorship is back in
its dark corner as all efforts to go back to the field take another nasty twist in the midst of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is regrettable that this latest total ban on alcohol sales has resulted in the suspension of KBL operations, which will remain in place for as long as the alcohol ban persists. KBL continues its efforts to engage government on this critical issue, which is having an enormous impact on the industry and its extensive value chain,” the company explained.

Although not proudly maintained at Lekidi Football Centre, the company is said to have abandoned talks on explanations revolving around ‘lack of funds.’In the initial agreement, sources say that it was settled that KBL would sponsor the Botswana Football League at a tune of P30million for a period of three years.

It is maintained that the deal was to be relooked and redefined to fit the sponsorship modalities of today’s game.Highly placed sources speaking with this publication however state that BFA is assisting BFL to cajole other companies to come on board as football is about to return to the field.

Top of the list is ABSA Bank who have remained afloat despite the impacts of the virus. The bank is said to be committed to football but sources say it will take a considerable amount of persuasion to see the bank increasing sponsorship.

KBL, in the first phase, were willing to commit without much difficulties but after the storm of COVID-19, the company was to take a back seat and played a waiting game. They reasoned that the continuous lockdown the country has gone under has left them with little income than expected.

But according to sources, KBL is still expressing pleasure to engage with the association again and will further illustrate their willingness to come on board as soon as the corona virus situation subsides.It is said KBL has requested further information regarding sponsorship value from the association and once satisfied, negotiations will resume.

However, some administrators within the National Executive Committee believe KBL’s parting message does not inspire confidence. “KBL‘s phase is over, they gave us hope but it is difficult to keep track of them, COVID-19 has affected every plan,” one member shared.

At the close last season, way before the corona virus impacted the country negatively; BFA revealed that it had long compiled its situation analysis of sponsorship value for the local game. It was understood that the property that is the Premier League could be purchased at a value P 15 million over 43 premier league games.

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BFA proposes new league format

25th January 2021
Maclean letshwiti

Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Maclean Letshwiti.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) is engaged in protracted talks to stage a mini-league as lee-way to ascend into a proper football season by August this year.

The idea is to keep players fit and all football structures functioning as time pressure mounts.Informants say the idea is discussed at the competition office and will soon be forwarded to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for further deliberations.

This therefore means that all leagues across the country will be played for only one round until August where a new full football season will resume. Football has never returned to the field for almost 10 months now due to the corona virus.

The situation on the ground looks gloomy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with each passing day.
Football clubs are also feeling the pinch with Sua Flamingos becoming the latest victims. The club has been forced to suspend operations as players and members of the technical team test positive for the deadly virus.

While playing a mini-league is a last resort, it is mentioned that no team will be promoted or relegated after the completion of the games.Sources say it is better than folding arms when teams are continuing to pay players without kicking the ball.

The idea of the mini-league therefore means that there will be no prize money but teams will likely survive with grants from identifiable sponsors. Already, the Botswana Football League (BFL) has secured a P 5 million television deal for over three years.

The BFL think tanks contemplate to augment the television deal with sponsorship grants from ABSA bank. According to information, this will keep the league and its secretariat running until everything gets back to normalcy.

“It is true we are thinking to stage a mini league looking at what we have but this is still an infant idea, we are discussing and we will engage NEC going forward,” a member of the association shared.BFA leadership finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place as the motion to kick start the league in February was shot down by the assembly in October of last year.

The movers of the motion argued that high temperatures usually recorded in the South of Sahara desert negatively affects player performance and their overall health conditions. However, there were intentions to commence the league at the earliest possible time but the task force together with the Ministry of Sport wanted players to be tested and football fields be fumigated regularly to avoid spreading the virus.

Early this week, the BFL leadership engaged the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) to give an update on how football will return. However, this publication cannot adequately establish the detailed plan of the league.

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Orapa United re-sign Ramoraka from TS Galaxy

25th January 2021
LESENYA RAMORAKA

Boteti based side, Orapa United were quick to snatch back Zebras left-back, Lesenya Ramoraka, tying him with a two-year deal after he was released this week by TS Galaxy.

The 26 year-old defender left The Ostriches in 2018 to join Highlands Park who later sold their status last year to renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy. Ramoraka’s contract was to end this year July.

At the time of the sale, the team then opted not to register him for another season hoping to register him in the January transfer but his injury kept him out for longer than anticipated, forcing TS Galaxy to release him as he was free to start to negotiate with any team that may be interested in him.

“We have signed Ramoraka after assessing his injury and he is in Orapa as we speak doing his rehab.The injury is not bad and we expect him to resume light training anytime from mid- February,” said Kabo William, the club spokesperson.

Ramoraka left an impressive mark at Highlands Park where he played 29 games in all competitions and netting only once. Lee, as he is known in football circles, is one of the most trusted left backs in the country and has been a vital part of the Zebras with his absence felt at the national team.

“The team had wanted to keep him but they were just concerned that his injury was taking long to heal and they opted to release him as you cannot have a player out for too long more especially who is a foreigner,” said a source.

“He had survived the changes at the team and you have to also note that the coach who brought him, Owen Da Gama also just joined TS Galaxy and he is one of the players that he trusted and used so it is not a matter of performance but they couldn’t afford to have him on the side-lines for too long.”

Orapa United have also announced the signing of other players that include; Thabiso Boti formerly with Notwane, Kutlo Kolagano from City Eagles, Galagwe Moyana who was released by Township Rollers, Kagisano Mungu from TAFIC and the team promoted Phemelo Pushudi from their development side.

The Ostriches have released goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga who has signed a 2 year deal with Sua Flamingos, Mothusi Johnson who retraced his steps back to Gaborone United, Baboloki Makhura and Abdullah Hamisi.

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