Having won a controversy riddled Premier League title last season, Township Rollers head coach, Mark Harrison was expected to further demonstrate and parade the gulf in class of his team this season and the anticipation was enormous given the marquee of signings of Jagdish Shah‘s project.
But against fiercest rivals, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, the Briton coach’s tactics betrayed his class. His mid-September travails were expected to be given some much needed respite against a limping Centre Chiefs, but instead, misery piled up, thus challenging the whole Township Rollers management with a difficult question to fathom – How do you solve the midfield conundrum of Township Rollers without Maano Ditshupo’s input?
Entering a popular calendar fixture against the Kgatleng oufit, Harrison was a picture of exasperation after naming an unchanged line up for the second successive time. And when he left the stadium, he was a shadow of himself. Township Rollers midfield play in those abysmal showings against BDF XI, Security Systems and now Chiefs was broken up, with award winning captain, Ditshupo as a bench warmer yet again.
Instead Harrison, since the splendid performance against BDF XI, opted to field Ntesang Simanyana who aimed for reprieve from the naysayers owing to his dismal showing whilst he was with cross town rivals, Gaborone United, a season ago. However, the decision to field Simanyana continues to compound the club’s midfield misery; where Segolame Boy has been slightly redeployed to function on an unfamiliar territory.
This on the whole should be a banana skin too hazardous a prospect, because long serving Rollers midfielder, Lawrence Majawa and the now rejected Rollers captain were often times paired in the midfield to shield the defence, with Boy tasked with providing additional support to the striking force, forming a midfield diamond with Joel Mogorosi and Galabgwe Moyana on either side of the pitch to pose a menacing attack. Under Mandinda Ndlovu, Rollers’ former coach, the team opted for power play but Harrison’s tactics are increasingly becoming a gargantuan task.
The midfield composition of Majawa, Simanyana, Motsholetsi Sikele and Lemponye Tshireletso struggles to give Harrison his Holy Grail- balance. Simanyana, despite his admirable battling qualities and improved form, can hardly be classed as a key cog in Rollers’ midfield. Essentially, the former Gaborone United player has been asked to replicate the role. Maano Ditshupo has made his own- breaking up play and playing simple passes to keep Rollers ticking.
When Rollers won the league last season, Ditshupo played 29 games of the club, missing only one. His underlying boldness as a midfielder of note showcased when he won the coveted Mascom top 8 player of the tournament-a fruitful effort that saw him becoming the engine that ran Township Rollers to the finals.
He scored four goals as a deep lying playmaker on process clinching the tournament’s golden boot. This season, Ditshupo started only 5 games. He played two games as a substitute- a period that saw the club slipping down the log to the 4th spot. Observers say Maano was the perfect player for power play, someone who passed the ball endlessly sideways, registering impressive possession stats without going anywhere. It is an allegation not without foundation but misses an important point about balance.
Having one player who can be relied on to keep the ball is not the same as having 11 who are terrified of giving away possession. As he showed this season in the away wins against Nico United and Jwaneng Galaxy, Maano is more than capable of incisive 40-yard forward passes when the situation allows. The club’s captain is not perhaps the most fashionable player. It is hard to see how he would fit in a hard-pressing, relentless running team such as Extension Gunners or Gaborone United.
Football analyst and former Notwane player Fabian Zulu says the introduction of Simanyana has brought confusion in the Rollers midfield. He is of the view that it consists of many ball players leaving a lot of work on Majawa. ‘‘I think it was unnecessary to drop Maano, he is a workaholic and can help the team in attack and equally in defence, but both Boy and Simanyana are liabilities defensively,’’ Zulu argued.
On the other hand, vice-captain Joel Mogorosi continues to polarize opinion. Nothing is coming off for him, and has not for a good while. He looks like an old man in a young man’s game. Before the season started, Harrison was fervent in his declaration that we would not see Mogorosi as an outright striker, like he was utilized in the dying embers of Peter Butler’s campaign in the world cup qualifiers. Yet Mogorosi is still seeking the sanctuary of coming deeper and is upsetting the balance and structure this Rollers side is striving for. It looks though that Harrison has catered for the vice captain’s needs and wants.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.
Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.
The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.
He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.
The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.
Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.
Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.
“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.
It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU. His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.
No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.
It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.
Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.
However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.
Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.
This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!
Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.
His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.
However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.
When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.
But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.
Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.
If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.
But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.
But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.
However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.
Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.