Gaborone United (GU) coach Rudolph Zapata is a man of many words but zero results in the field of play which has left GU family greatly disappointed as his messianic words at the beginning of the season gave them hope, writes KETUMILE RAMATITI.
By the end of the season The Reds’ trophy cabinet will have only gathered dust despite Zapata promising honours when he arrived last year. The only redemption left to offer would be to put GU within the Top 8 bracket. “I’m working step by step until the end. From then I will be going to do player and coach development in the USA. I think my job is going to be done to put GU in the Top 8. I wish all the GU supporters all the best,” Zapata said after the game against Mochudi Centre Chiefs three weeks ago.
Currently The Reds are on the bottom half of the league table with 29 points, an unfamiliar territory for Moyagoleele at this time of the season. The team might just miss out on the lucrative Mascom Top 8 competition for the first time since its inception in 2012. In the same tournament, Zapata’s side was eliminated in the first stage of the tournament by BDF XI.
A few months after the Argentine coach was unveiled last season he posted on his Twitter account that he would be “playing soccer not football” like others. This remark caused ruckus on the football circles as rivals argued the coach was taking jibes at them. Meanwhile The Reds family was buzzing with excitement as they believed they had found the right man for their team; they even came up with initiatives like ‘Zapata Dance’ to prepare for the prospects of a good life under the South American mentor.
After revealing these words, he again categorically stated in his social media platform, precisely Twitter, when he arrived in Botswana at the beginning of the second stanza of the league that, “I’m back to Botswana to take away both the league and the Top 8.” He went on to promise the GU family during the launch of the P2 million sponsorship from Zac Construction and Mobicel. “We will triple our work to achieve what we want,” he vowed to GU supporters on the stairs of the exquisite Chez Nicola club. As if it wasn’t enough he continued to say, “I’m going to be playing 1-10 system,” this according to the Aires Buenos born gaffer implied that he will play slumber jacket football- attack as a team and defend as a team, but was this possible?
Fast forward to now the coach is singing a different tune, “we are not going to negotiate good football, even if we lose we are not going to play like a small team.” Furthermore, he is pointing fingers at boardroom wrangles which according to him; ram the technical team ambitions. “But I am leaving soon so some people in GU are going to be happy. Real supporters understand my job. By the way my record in GU is 15-8-7,” he posted on his Twitter account in February at a time when some EXCO members blasted his tactics.
Perhaps Zapata has a point on the boardroom rumbling as sometimes players were not paid in time which led to them displaying lacklustre performance. However, his tactics wherewithal are also the reason why the team is below rookies like Security Systems and Black Forest. “Zapata is a professional but his playing style is putting him under pressure,” former player and coach Fabian Zulu posits. He further added that it will be difficult for GU to secure a top eight bracket considering the competition there.
Among the raft of changes the loud-mouthed coach brought to GU includes his ruthless parting ways with some key players in the team. Ntesang Simanyana, Edwin Olerile, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng, Kgololo Kgogobi and Mandla Mgadla were all shown the door. Some players were accused of indiscipline while others were deemed as surplus to requirements. Later on national team striker Hendrick Moyo left. Talks about his man-management deficiencies were always there, his relationship with Mpho Kgaswane (now with Baroka) had reached the nose dive according to some players talking to this paper.
His tactics has left a lot to be desired, his idea of ‘attacking as a team and defending as a team’ was never a solution nor proved to be directing the team to the right path. The likes of Kabelo Seakanyeng, Karabo Phiri and Obonwe Maome were designated positions they were not familiar with. The trio with their well-known attacking prowess were assigned to do the opposite by Zapata in his 1-10 formation. “It’s his style and it’s very difficult because it is a European style and tough for local players,” Zulu said.
His stay nonetheless has proved that he is passionate about the younger players, Tumisang Orebonye and Thatayaone Ditlhokwe are notable examples under the during the Zapata era. The Argentinian’s contract will elapse at the end of the season and it will be seen whether GU will offer him a new contract.
A study conducted by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), has revealed that a turnaround strategy is needed to make an elite league body, Botswana Premier League (BPL), a profitable entity.
The study piloted in June and completed in December of last year, depicts a picture of possible improvement where a total of 16 premier league clubs were examined and studied on how they conduct their football related businesses.
It comes out that 54% of premier league club revenue streams are from general sponsorship while a paltry 2% is generated from gate takings. A further 11% of profit is from broadcasting rights and that remains abnormal in a game that should be well known to be propelled by rich television agreement worldwide.
Moreover, BDF XI, Gilport Lions, Extension Gunners, Miscellaneous, Morupule Wanderers , BR Highlanders, Police XI and Prisons XI have all demonstrated a heavy reliance and dependence on sponsors, prices and monthly grants, while the quartet of Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, Township Rollers and Gaborone United have all managed to source revenue streams outside the common and well known sponsor outlets.
Of all the 16 premier league clubs, Jwaneng Galaxy emerges as the top club that is able to attract moneyed sponsors. The study shows that the Jwaneng outfit rakes about P 5 million in sponsorship revenues, followed by their ‘rival brothers’ Orapa United who receive an approximation of P 3 million per football season.
The two clubs are at the fore front because of the footsteps and presence of Debswana in their leadership radar.Coming third is Security Systems whose purse get around P 2.5M from the parent company, GU is on fourth spot at around P 1.5M. Township Rollers is on a distant fifth position with about P 1M per season of individual sponsorship.
The rest of the clubs receive services in kind such as accommodation, playing kits, training kits, fuel and water and soft drinks. This further underlines the struggle to make profit as footballing team in the elite league, the study highlights.
However, from the report, it emerges that only Township Rollers has the capacity to make profit from a good football season. Much of the club revenues are from the sale of its replica jerseys. The club as powered by Jagdish Shah sells about 3000 replicas at a value of P 350 000.It is the only club that sells merchandise from sport chain stores (Studio 88) and according to the report, it is a reliable indicator that shows fans engagement level with the club.
While it emerges from this study that ticketing revenue has a low weight on club’s revenues varying from 2-9% depending on the club, Rollers again is the only club making profit from this front.
But to further underscore the issue of lack of business sense in the elite league, it comes to the fore that there is low fan attendance per home game and this is the major cause of low ticketing revenue.
Gunners however top the table, averaging a total of 5000 supporters per game. Gunners is followed by Rollers at 4000 followers while Miscellaneous comes third with 1700 fans per home game. On average, it shows that 75% of clubs have a fan base while the remaining 25% have absolute nothing.
The report further indicates that many of Botswana’s elite clubs are experiencing financial difficulties because of the model of ownership. “Clubs legal entity form is not homogenous and 25% of them are owned by the government,” the report shows.
The report therefore recommends that clubs should standardized ownership models as this will lose dependency on government.“Furthermore, legal conditions will be the same for all clubs and transparency of the BPL will be enhanced,” the report curtailed.
However, BFA says it knows nothing about the report but one member of the executive committee says the association is addressing all problems bedevilling Botswana’s game.
The member is adamant that all administrative loopholes of the game will be resolved and it is why FIFA project time for change is still on going at regional level.
8 – Numbers of clubs that make financial losses 4 – Clubs do not depend on gate takings 1 – club is self-sustaining
Nikola Kavazovic, Township Rollers’ pragmatic Head Coach, is said to have scuppered a move that was to see Botswana international Magokolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele joining the club in this football calendar.
Instead, the player proceeded to join Limpopo province based outfit, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C. carrying a long face.
It is reported that Shah, the club’s investor, had wanted to sign the left footed midfielder to bolster an attacking front but Kavazovic flatly refused to sanction the move, adding that his squad is solid and strong even without Tsotso Ngele.
According to reports, Ngele was to be offered a contract with a salary scale of P 40 000. Shah believed, and still holds the same view, that Ngele’s name is a powerhouse that was to further market the team and increase its brand awareness in Botswana’s business community.
However, Kavazovic is said to have told some members of the technical team that it is always difficult to coach and manage players who are favoured by Shah.
Ngele is reported to be nostalgic and would want to play for a home team in the stature of Rollers. As things stand, he is not enjoying his stay at Thohoyandou and it explains why his appearances at the club are an oddity.
Ngele had a successful season with Roller in 2012 where he won the Mascom Top 8 Cup under Mike Sithole. He was expected to be guided by Kavazovic to help mount a serious challenge for this year’s silver ware.
Rollers on its own have reshuffled their attacking options over a period of time, losing darling striker Joel Mogorosi to Gaborone United while another robust striker Teenage Orebonye was poached by clubs abroad.
Before the arrival of Kavazovic, Rollers’ technical team bitterly complained last season about the lack of productivity from their attackers but they hoped that the ever-consistent Edwin Moalosi and Ngele, aided perhaps by Segolame who remains in the books, can fire an upturn.
All the while, it is said Ngele will still force his move to Popa and there is hope that his personality and experience will eventually serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players like Kago Monyake.
Rollers have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their signing of Mogorosi few seasons ago was rooted, in part, by what he could bring away from the field.
Rollers still wish that Ngele could cut his stay and further negotiate with Kavazovic to sign the player and bring a country wide spread inspiration and determination he possessed after carrying the club to its inaugural top 8 edition in 2012.
That year he won the golden boot playing as a second striker. When he left Rollers, we went straight to command a starting line up with Platinum Stars. A year later, he won the Telkom knockout player of the tournament.
Some members within Rollers fold argue that Shah knew right from the start that he was not going to be able to control Kavazovic and his wishes of signing Tsotso might as well disappear on the furthest horizon.
Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.
The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.
It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.
Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.
Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.
Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.
Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.
Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.
A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.
Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.
He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.
“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.
Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.
However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.