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 delegation from FIFA, the world football governing body, has left heads rolling after concluding what some call ‘early findings’ that Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat has not misused FIFA funds contrary to widespread reports and criticism. This comes to the fore against the much peddled P8.8 million which disappeared within the coffers of the association.
However, FIFA delegation led by David Fani, a former BFA boss himself, finds out that the funds have been used to projects they were not initially meant for. The delegation cited money for covid-19 which was meant to cushion clubs from distress due to lack of playing and was used to pay BFA employees. However, the findings by FIFA are said to have left the world of football divided on the way forward. They are those who are skeptical about the manner in which investigations were carried out but are afraid to voice out for fear of being victimized or being relieved of their duties.
While FIFA is adamant that the funds were misallocated, BFA finds itself at pains to answer a difficult question where some staff members at the finance department were sacked. More complicating the already strained situation is the decision to suspend the Chief Executive Officer, Goabaone Taylor and threatening to expel her while she had an over-riding duty to prioritize BFA funds when corona had ravaged the administration and operational wing of the association.
It might be that the National Executive Committee was building a case for her and would now want to look as if they were saving face when they sidelined her. “During the four day visit, the delegation carried out its assessment and interviewed BFA staff and former employees. At the end of the investigation, the delegation briefed the NEC on initial findings. The delegation informed the NEC that it found no evidence of misappropriation or embezzlement of funds,” reads part of BFA statement.
BFA has claimed that its brand has been “deeply tarnished” and that its “ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the country, and to meet its mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football” has been “impaired” as a consequence of the actions of the football officials and some sports administrators under their watch. “We are not out of the woods yet, we had made good strides in earning FIFA’s trust; we will wait to see what the remedial action will be. However, we will be tightening our gabs and ensuring that we regain the financial confidence we worked so hard for,” BFA president Maclean Letshwiti said.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place owing to the ever burning issue of mischievous spending at operational level.
While the association coffers have suddenly dried up, with some staff members getting the boot, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has threatened to place the Maclean Letshwiti led association under strict funding for unspecified period of time.
WeekendSport learns that the sport ministry is not happy about the financial status of the association and will want to act before everything get messy.
At the close of last year, the Ministry had to intervene for the Women National Football Team to travel to Ethiopia as BFA had no penny to cover for the travelling costs.
As if that was not enough, the BFA December wages were covered from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) purse, an abnormality that BFA is at pains to explain.
All these incidents, however, coincide with a time when the Sport ministry is putting in place a new revised modeling for funding. The model requests national sports associations to explain in details the why they will need funding for their calendar of events.
Moreover, the Ministry is eager to prioritize funding basing on the performance of the sport code on a yearly basis.
“Things have changed, we are not going to splash money like we used to do, and we want a code to explain fully how they are going to spend the money,” a source shared.
Moreover, we will be funding looking at the overall performance of the code, we are not going to fund just because it is football and it is loved by many people.”
At worst, the ministry will want the association to account and should BFA fail to balance their books, the National Executive Committee(NEC) is likely to be dissolved by the ministry.
Sources further state that the Ministry’s patience has actually wilted away concerning codes that abuse funds. In the case of BFA, sources point out that they are likely to get half subvention until everything goes back to normalcy.
On a good year, BFA subvention reaches P 5.4million annually. Should the ministry persists, BFA will start operations of the year on a budget of about P 2.7 million. It will not be for the first time the association finds itself bearing the brunt.
Sometimes in 2018 when Tshekedi Khama was the Minister, the association’s subvention were cut down to pay an old standing debt that amounted to P3 million.
However, high ranking officials at the association believe funds can still be accounted for and refuses to accept that they have been reckless when it comes to spending. The official who does not want be named is of the view that the association had to halt FIFA projects and concentrate on incidental expenses brought by COVID -19.
According to BFA expenditure, the CEO gets the higher chunk and that’s where most of the money went. A national trip to South Africa by senior national team has also seen the association spending close to a million.
Moreover, the communication department of the association is bleeding more money after a certain PR agency was appointed nearly two years ago.
Township Rollers first ever Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi has reportedly turned down an offer from Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the reins at the association as the new CEO.
This comes to the fore following the ‘always expected’ suspension of Goabaone Taylor in December 2021, on account of internal investigations relating to the misappropriation of funds that transpired before her eyes.
Sources speaking to this publication indicate that Taylor will eventually vacate her position, barely eight months after her historic appointment as the first ever lady to lead the often stubborn BFA secretariat.
Masterminds behind her appointment and eventual fall from grace wanted to therefore give Mamelodi an opportunity to assume the role, but the soft spoken administrator is reported to have chickened out, opting to stay put at Township Rollers.
It is not yet known why an ambitious man like Mamelodi’s feet will turn cold over a job that commands respect across football circles.
However, it is reported that the once rejected Mfolo Mfolo will have a second bite on the cherry after BFA president MacLean Letshwiti confided to his close allies that he was misled at a time when Mfolo was sacked.
The equally soft spoken Mfolo, who too has footprints at Township Rollers was fired just after the October 2020 elections for allegedly failing to take charge when the national under 17 was disqualified from the COSAFA tournament after failing the MRI test.
All the while, reports indicate that Mamelodi is eyeing the Botswana Football League (BFL) post where he made his name, but close sources continue to deny that the brother to Ashford Mamelodi will want to go back to Lekidi Football Centre given the manner in which his dismissal was handled about six years ago.
At the time of going to print, he could not be reached for comment.
As things stand, Mamelodi has been appointed as the project manager of BFL while holding the fort at Rollers. He is anticipated to provide insight on how the league can source sponsors for itself and run smoothly without struggles. He is also expected to erect a working structure for the BFL.
Mamelodi has previously worked with Jwaneng Galaxy as well as interim spells with Orapa United to help both clubs turn professional. He is said to be in love with what he does at Popa and it is why he is no longer intrigued by BFA political positions.
However, sources mention that Mamelodi will be tried once again but are skeptical that the man will agree to the deal even if it is mouthwatering.