A mouthwatering 2016/17 First Division North (FDN) is in store for football lovers up north. The icing on the cake is perhaps the fact that the dusty league is dominated by teams that have previously traded in the elite league, an addition expected to heighten the rivalry at the grounds.
For many years now, the FDN has been rated lower than their southern counterparts – last season though, the northerners broke the norm and promoted two teams to the premier league.
However, the campaign which takes off this afternoon (Saturday) is tipped to be as good as elite football, much like in the past. The league leadership is also busy negotiating with the business community to come to the party and partner with them at this opportune time.
As for the teams, they have made their intentions clear that come next season they want to be among the crème de la crème at the premier league. But of all the titans who is likely to master the art and win the championship next year May?
ECCO CITY GREENS
Mamoja-Diskie is one of the heavy-weights in the league, having failed to gain promotion only by a whisker last season. However, this time around the green machine is well oiled and ready to conquer.
“We have no excuse, our team has been rehearsing well for the campaign and we are glad that we retained the core of the team together with the coach hence we expect continuation to lay the golden eggs come end of the season,” said the team’s communication head Gift Keaitse.
The Francistown side begins their quest today by visiting Real Movers of Selibe Phikwe. “We just want to take-off on a high because if you do so chances are you can go all the way, and today re letsa thupa hela,” Keaitse said. As part of the preparations, the former premier league champions have opened food stalls around the city to raise the funds, and they have also released a document to lure investors to their side in their efforts to bounce back.
The reds are fresh from a 3-0 win over rivals Tasc in the Independence Cup and the momentum is expected to continue until they reach their destination. Last season, Tafic dreamt in vain of a premier league comeback, they still harbour the same dreams, and it remains to be seen how things will turn out for them, especially with the heightened competition. Apart from the independence tournament the team has been on silent mode, but they remain a threat that could win the league in May, efforts to understand how the team has been preparing were not successful.
Sowa could have qualified for the premier league last season, but administration goofs saw them failing to maintain their pace. This time around the team is under the pragmatic Enos Mmesi who has immense experience. “We have been sweating out preparing for the season and we managed to better the players’ condition though it wasn’t easy, but I’m confident we will gain the promotion we aspire,” club chairperson Bashi Joseph said. The team has managed to attract talents from Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Kazungula Young Fighters to help push the agenda. Their financial strength is also expected to give them a slight advantage over other teams.
The ambitious Palapye side will have to show their worthiness this season when they battle it out with other titans. Just like Satmos they also relegated last season and it remains to be seen if they can make the much anticipated return. Having lost three of their regular players last season Chouka has the potential to electrify their competitors with the available arsenal. The presence of the team will give the likes of Ecco necessary competition that fans are itching for.
FC Satmos who were relegated last season have the means to surprise many more so they never lost any of the prized assets. TASC, who played at the final of the independence cup, could also be a dark horse, they have the experience but their quality is not convincing. The other team that has made waves is Morupule Wanderers under the eye of Oris Radipotsane; with money power to pull the players they want “Wandi-wandi” could be the surprise package in the league. They have made their intentions clear that they are eyeing a premier league return. Great North Tigers is another team that cannot be overlooked since they have been in the premier league and it is always fireworks when they play rivals (Ecco, Tasc &Tafic) but of late the team has been on low profile leaving many wondering whether they would pull the show expected.
Major David Bright is set to be announced as the new coach of Premier league rookies, Sua Flamingos, who parted ways with their coach, Raizor Tsatselebe, last week after a fall out over players’ welfare.
Bright, who is currently coaching first division south outfit, Holy Ghost was interviewed for the job this week with three other coaches and is said to have agreed to a contract in principle. Sua Flamingos Chairman, Tirelo Thebe was mum on the issue insisting that the deal will be announced at the right time when both parties have put to pen everything.
“What I can tell you is that next month we will announce our coach and he will have time to prepare our team as we aim to not just be at the top league for one season but we want to compete as we are a team that aspire to be one of the top teams in Botswana and one day compete in international CAF games.
Yes Bright is one of the people we are considering so you need to understand that negotiations are private and can break at any time but we hope for the best,” the team Chairman said in a telephone interview.
Bright is also one of the decorated local coaches having coached premier league sides such as Gaborone United, Township Rollers, BDF Xl, and in South Africa where he coached Cape Town Santos, Bay United and Black Leopards.
Bright has also coached the Zebras before they roped in Algerian coach, Adel Ambrouche who is the current Zebras coach. It is to be seen as to whether the management of Sua Flamingos will be able to work smoothly with David Bright who is a man who does not tolerate interference with his squad.
“It’s surprising that the team fired Raizor as he was seen to be more on the side of players and now they are bringing in a coach who doesn’t even tolerate interference from management and very strict on both management and players.
I mean if they have a problem with strict coaches why bring another strict coach? They could have brought in a coach who can listen to them more as management because they want to be in control of the team and everything,” said a source at the club.
“The delay is said to be because Bright has asked for him to be given chance to rope in his preferred assistant coach and management asked to be given time to consider his request as they are not comfortable with the issue,” continued the source.
Sua Flamingo Santos have returned to training and are led by care taker coach, Kopano Computer Phakedi.
Botswana Premiership League outfit, Gaborone United (GU) were the first to open a new chapter in the history books of Botswana football, when they were crowned the inaugural 2008/09 beMobile Premiership champions.
The success came after almost two decades without winning the league title. In a title decider played at Molepolole Stadium, Moyagoleele defeated the defending champions, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, by a solitary goal courtesy of Wellington Maposa.
That was the last time the money machine was crowned the league champions. Just nearly 10 years after breaking a curse of going two decades without tasting league victory, The Reds have regrouped in a bit to return to their former glory days.
GU is currently the busiest club in the transfer market as they are bolstering their squad ahead of 2020/2021 football season.
The Money Machine have secured the signatures of Mothusi Johnson and Karabo Phiri from the Debswana-sponsored giants; Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy respectively.
WeekendSport has since established that both players have signed three-year contracts with the Reds. The club is now under the guidance of business mogul Nicholas Zakhem who is their chief financier.
Moyagoleele’s prodigal son, Phiri, returns to Old Naledi after spending two seasons with the current 2019/2020 BTC Premiership Champions Jwaneng Galaxy.
Phiri was signed by former Jwaneng Galaxy coach Miguel Da Costa during 2018/2019 season where he became their regular player. Phiri has also won the 2019 Mascom Top 8 champions with Jwaneng Galaxy.
Since then, 25 year old has earned himself several national team calls.
Another player who returns home is none other than the ever impressive defender Mothusi Johnson. The 23 year old Zebras defender joined Orapa United from the Money Machine during 2018/2019 season.
However, prior to the elapse of his two year deal with the Ostriches, it was reported that he previously turned down two offers from Orapa United arguing that they did not represent his worth.
Another reason why Johnson turned down two offers from Orapa United was because he wanted to move abroad but later realised that it was going to be difficult for him find a team after the COVID-19 outbreak.
The 23 year-old Johnson made a name for himself on the field of play after he was nurtured by Argentinian coach Rudolf Zapata while at GU. Orapa United Spokesperson, Kabo William confirmed with this publication that Mothusi Johnson will be a Gaborone United player.
“Yes, Mothusi bid us a farewell saying he’s joining Gaborone United. His contract had expired. So we are just waiting for GU to make a request for his clearance,’’ William said.
Former Motlakase Power Dynamos and also Mochudi Centre Chiefs defender, Thato Kebue has left Jwaneng Galaxy after the end of his contract and it has been reported that he signed a pre-contract with the Money machine according to impeccable sources.
The 23 year-old defender joins Galaxy from Magosi during the 2017/2018 season and just like his former teammate Phiri helped his former side win the League and also the Top 8 tournament.
Gaborone United are reportedly keen on signing Jwaneng Galaxy defensive midfielder Lebogang Ditsile. The Reds want to compete for top honours next season and they feel Ditsile can bring the competitive edge they need in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile reports coming from Moyagoleele is that the club is planning to take their caretaker coach to complete CAF A coaching licensing before offering him a new three-year deal.
Moloi made headlines beginning of this year when teams questioned why Botswana Football Association (BFA) allowed him be the head coach for GU while he is holding a B license coaching qualification which only enables him to sit on the GU technical bench as an assistant coach.
The Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, has expressed its underlying desire to reawaken and improve sport policy.
This is also in line with the declaration made by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) this week about the need to improve sport performance in the country. The sport policy was first enacted in 2001 when the Department of Sport and Recreation was under the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs.
The review of this policy is expected to commence soon and strive to address all socio-economic problems bedevilling sport. The examination will start from the elements that speak to the direct processes of national dialogue of sport and come up with recommendations for improvement.
As things stand, the Sport Ministry has coordinated a task force to deal with the taxing issue of school sports where teachers have downed tools demanding special kind of payment for partaking in extracurricular activities. The government through various means has been made aware that sport forms an integral part of the country’s vision.
If the policy is finally revised, the country and other stakeholders will eventually achieve national development, unity and continued economic growth. “The national Sport Commission Act is also being reviewed to facilitate sport to contribute to the economy through commercialization and professionalism, as well as to improve the welfare and the rights to our sportspersons,” Masisi said in his address.
The review will once again take a long route of extensive consultative processes where critical factors were initially identified as continuous constraint to sport development. There is a wide ranging view that sport is solely for recreation. This anomaly is fast becoming a matter of yesteryears as more athletes are making a living out of sport.
In October of 1997, a discussion paper on sport policy development was prepared. At the time, the workshop brought together policy and decision makers. The discussions precisely centred on issues of sport participation and development. Participants included among others, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) and National Sports Associations.
There was the discovery of limited funding in sport and poor sporting facilities in the country. This has negatively impacted on the performance of national sports associations, particularly on the global stage. As a measure to this problem, the government has decided to build 10 mini stadia to up participation and performance.
In 2001 when the policy was formulated, there was an agreement that the national guiding principles of democracy, development, unity, self-reliance and botho are cardinal to the development strategy of socio-economic development planning. The Ministry believes that sport and recreation in Botswana have a close relationship with all these national principles.
When speaking to this publication, the Chief Executive Officer of BNSC, Tuelo Serufho said there is indeed an overwhelming appetite to improve sport performance and participation in the country. “Yes we need to engage both BNSC and BNOC to improve and review the sport policy more because it has been overtaken by time…it needs to be aligned with modern sports trends,” Serufho briefly shared.