Tough times lie ahead for Nico United FC as fears that the club may soon collapse grow thick. Weekend Sport has learnt that the club is on slippery ground following its main sponsor, BCL being shut down. As it is, the club started the year (2016) on a negative balance sheet as even before the provisional liquidation, BCL already had financial problems and cut off their assistance to the club.
“Since the beginning of this year BCL has not being doing well hence we have not being receiving our sponsorship accordingly, thus we had troubles with paying our players and settling hospitality bills, but it was better, but now the liquidation has completely paralyzed us because we no longer have a free bus from the company, our utility bills at the offices and training grounds are on us to settle,’’ revealed Coach Blue Same, a technical mentor at Nico United.
According to Same, the club now only makes do with grants from Botswana Premier League which are not enough. The club also survives on individual contributions from good Samaritans and well wishers. The club’s board which usually saved the team also comprises BCL employees who have since lost their jobs. “When I say the liquidation has hit us hard I mean this: our board comprises of former BCL employees, most of them managers and superintendents, this gentlemen have been helping with money from their pockets but now they are unemployed and some are already out of town scouting for greener pastures elsewhere, we are in big trouble,” he said .
According to the coach, the mine’s closure has lead to an exodus of the bulk of the team board members, further revealing his fears that this could be the end of his team. The board chairman is allegedly tipped for a new lucrative job at Lucara Karowe mine. According to sources at Majombolo, players have not been receiving their monthly payments and will be going for Christmas holidays empty handed “These are children, young men and boys who play for the team whole heartedly, it is unfortunate that the club cannot pay them accordingly for the simple reason that there is no money,” explained a source.
However, Same confirmed to this publication that Selibe Phikwe based business magnate, China Mading has however been coming to the club’s rescue a number of times with transport. “We no longer have any funds to finance our logistics, just last week Former Satmos mentor China Mading came to our rescue at the 11th hour and provided his minibus freely for the club to honour the fixtures,” Same said.
Information gathered by Weekend Sport three weeks ago revealed that Majombolo is also wooing Mading for a more commanding spot in the dressing room. Nico United Communications & Marketing Manager Mogomotsi Orapeleng told this publication that the assistance of the former goalkeeper and now local football icon has done the club good thus far. “Yes he has been and is continuing to help us with transport and logistics as well as other administrative matters,” he said.
Apart from the helping hand of their former legendary goal keeper Nico united has been relying on contributions from their Gaborone based supporters and Phikwe originals under the coordination of Vusa Ziga ,a local shrewd football analyst and sport administrator who extend an administrative helping hand to the club from time to time. “Sometime when we reach a dead end with hotel bookings for our games down south, our Gaborone based supporters and members come to the rescue with contributions and connections with hospitality service providers that side,” revealed a source.
Information gathered by this publication also revealed that a Gaborone based investor had expressed interest in injecting capital into the club, but members rejected him as he wanted to relocate the team to Gaborone. “Our financial troubles makes us vulnerable to vultures who want to take advantage of us, the investor wanted to use us for a status in the lucrative multi Million pula BTC Premier league ,but our members, being the registered fans rejected him,” added the source who preferred anonymity.
CLUB WANTS TO MEET SPEDU & LINAH MHOHLO
According to Same they have taken a resolution to find ways to Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) for assistance. Same also told Weekend Sport that they are in the process of requesting Phikwe Economic Revitalization Strategy coordinator Linah Mohohlo‘s audience. “Sport and football presents tourism in the first place, and then small business flourishes under football events, thus we want SPEDU and Linah Mhohlo to use us to keep the town alive.”
A source from Nico United administrative corridors also told this publication that SPEDU can even assist them with finances since they sponsored a golf tournament to a tune of P100 000 earlier this year. “We feel SPEDU can come to our rescue, we will engage them as soon as January next year , if they can’t help us financially then one way or the other they have the acumen to assist us, we want them to organize us a meeting with Linah Mhohlo,” a Nico United administrator revealed. “We are of the view that Sports and football can complement Phikwe rebirth efforts through events tourism and keeping the town alive while economic resuscitation is in process.”
Established in 1969 Nico United is an association sporting club formed by BCL Miners, The team rejoined the Botswana Premier League for the 2004-05 season after spending the 2003-04 season playing in the second level, First Division-North, and has since then maintained their stay in the Premier league. The club launched a new technical sponsor in Pedigree Sportswear to dress the team amid financial crises. Nico United sits at position 9 in the BTC Premier league with 15 points and last week suffered a 3 nil defeat against Security Systems.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.