Mark Harrisons’ philosophy remains embedded as Township Rollers enters the new season in need of fine-tuning rather than a tactical overhaul. But can they take the next step without hiccups? Staff writer MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE observes.
In many people’s views, Township Rollers’ preparations and robust transfer recruitment on the 2016-17 season was the ‘epiphany’ for those who doubted the brilliance of one of the arguably best football sides ever. Prior to the end of the 2015-16 controversial season, many football pundits had predicted a luke warm performance for Mark Harrison and his blue and yellow army. For the second season running, defending champions Township Rollers have not had their best start despite winning the Kabelano Charity spectacular- a cup carrying less significance.
The long suffering Rollers community suddenly have renewed hopes of days long past, after watching helplessly as Centre Chiefs and their former coach Mike Sithole wrestled the title out of their reach. They have roped in Harrison, a highly renowned tactician whose first job was to clean the mess left by former coaches. He seems to have done exactly that, reminding domestic football that he is a pragmatic man whose football ideologies have been appealing even to the purists.
It is indeed a quality required for a coach as Harrison has surveyed a squad that had worrying holes in it last season. But the Briton coach looks to have somehow transformed last term’s failures to a title winning team.
This would represent success and the soft spoken mentor is aware even this will be difficult. However, Rollers’ players are lining up to claim that a 3rd title in four seasons can be won but their coach is somehow cagey. Harrison would never say it publicly but everybody is playing for the league, it will be too early to say they are right on course.
Can it happen? The jury is still out until the close of this campaign as the executive committee inclusive of Rollers’ chief financier Jagdish Shah finished the quest to recruit players to the team. The bottom line is that choosing which of Centre Chiefs, BDF XI, and Gaborone United, Rollers can replace, is tricky as all have bolstered their ranks impressively this summer.
Harrison’s wrecking ball has however arrived via the transfer of Rollers most influential winger and club captain Sekhana Koko. He was instrumental in the club’s rise to glory last season. How Popa will cope with the damage is the great conundrum of the first 10 games, answers ranging from another title challenge – foreseen on this occasion – consolidation in the top two or squeezed back to the margins all carrying weight.
Beyond dispute is Rollers’ mantle as a contender and their reaction to both Koko and Ramatlhakwane‘s exit. For all considered factors the former Zebras players were the country-class inspiration behind the club’s strongest title challenge of the Premier League era. The blow however prompted a swift and considered response.
There have been six incomings at the time BPL released official new signings. Lemponye Tshireletso, Mara Moloi, Ntesang Simanyana, Gape Mohutshiwa, Mosha Gaolaolwe and Senegalese striker Pape Ndaw.
Harrison seems to have identified several weak spots when he arrived as Rollers coach late last season and the problems undermining the team’s thrilling title challenge last season have been addressed.
Much, therefore, now depends on the skipper Maano Ditshupo and the awareness of the strikers in front of him. The continued upward trajectory of Segolame Boy and the stability new signee Lemponye Tshireleso can bring will surely determine the success of the team. Up front, the club lacks absolutely nothing. They have Mara Moloi and Terrence Mandaza, each have the league’s golden boot on separate accounts.
In Harrison, Rollers like Chiefs did, possesses one of the most astute, forward-thinking coaches in the game. His rebuilding work may come to fruition in this season and next, but his foundations are in place.
However, the team is criticised for adopting a robust move when building for silverware. In search of glory and countrywide appeal, the team is castigated for paying little attention to their youth academy and adopting an almost mercenary belief that success literally has a price.
Takeover talks inside Mochudi Centre Chiefs boardroom appear to have collapsed following months of intense persuasion between Chairman Thapelo Tsheole and apparent shareholders, Matshidiso Sexton Kowa and one Tsieng Ramotsha.
Both Kowa and Ramotsha are equal shareholders of Mochudi Center Chiefs PTY Ltd, as per Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) records.
It is said that the current Chairman has grown exasperated with the failure to make significant progress where he wanted to professionalize the club and turn it into a footballing company.
Sources speaking with WeekendSport state that Tsheole wants both Directors to cede 75 percent of their shares to society as he believes the transitional route from society to a company has been bypassed.
Tsheole officially raised his hand for the first time this year, in an attempt to bring an end to more than a decade spell of Chiefs’ ownership, and appeared to have pinned his hopes on reaching an agreement with both Kowa and Ramotlhwa because of their status and good standing as former Chiefs administrators.
However, he now feels he was wrong to believe he was serious in his attempt to cajole the supposed club owners and those close to him have also said he feels he is now wasting his time speaking to them.This follows unsuccessful negotiations where both Directors were alleged to have been left in utter shock concerning the approach and presentation of the Chairman.
While the two Directors would not be drawn to comment, it is said they are both hamstrung to divulge deeper details to Tsheole because of his ambition to transform the club.
Tsheole, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Stock Exchange was surprised when he tried to register a commercial footballing company on behalf of Mochudi Centre Chiefs. He deliberately chose the ‘Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ name because of its popularity as it remains a brand country wide.
He found out that the company name already exists and is under the directorship of both Kowa and Ramotsha.When approached for comment Tsheole could not field any of WeekendSport enquiries but refereed the paper to Pollen Makgane who is the club’s Public Relation Officer.
Makgane confirmed that there are ongoing talks between Chiefs’ current committee and club directors to help in transformation. He said it is not an easy exercise as a lot of understanding has to be done to appreciate the two side of the story.
“I want us to protect the status of the two directors but what is more important is that talks are not as smooth as we had expected. You will recall that Tsheole was given the mandate to transform the club but now there is a deadlock of club ownership,” he said.
While Mochudi Center Chiefs PTY LTD was registered sometime in February of this year, there was another company, Centre Chiefs PTY LTD, associated with the club which has been in existence since the early 1990s. This is the same company that acquired a 7 hector piece of land in Mochudi.
The company had 7 directors namely Victor Kowa as the Executive Chairman, Ezekiel Mooki who was appointed the Technical Director, Serake Mfollwe holding the post of director of Marketing and Public Relations, Simon Mmopi coming as Director of Development, Mac Lean Letshwiti holding the fort as Director of Finance, Sexton Kowa who was Youth Development Director and Kgafela Kgafela who occupied the post of Director of Legal Affairs and Board Secretary.
Fresh from losing the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee elections, Tebogo Sebego’s aspiring Vice Presidents, Maokaneng Bontshetse and Senki Sesinyi have immediately lodged a protest, arguing that elections were not free and fair.
Of particular interest, the two rejected vice presidents question the involvement of BFA staff members in the counting and verification of ballot papers.
Their arguments rest on Article 20 of the electoral code which reads thus; “only members of the electoral committee may take part in the count.”
Furthermore, Sesinyi, who lost the elections to the eventual winner Masego Ntshingane, argues that Article 16 of the electoral code was flaunted especially during run-off.
The article states that the ballot paper shall be of a different colour for each round of elections.According to Sesinyi’s observations, BFA electoral committee did not use a different colour when the election went to second round.
“The above was not followed as BFA secretaries [sic] was conducting elections which contravened the above section as evidenced by the observers and submitted on the day of elections to the elections officers present. Evidence shall be provided if needed,” Sesinyi wrote.
Sesinyi also submitted that there were allegations of bribery which were doing rounds on the day of elections and even after, something which might have impacted on the outcome of election. In conclusion, Sesinyi seeks fresh elections for all candidates as all processes were not followed.
On the day of the elections, Sesinyi was stationed at Jwaneng where he was eventually voted by 23 delegates out of possible 60.On the other hand, Maokaneng submissions are somewhat similar to that of Sesinyi especially on arguments of Article 20. But he built his case around an alleged spoilt vote that appeared to have cost him the win.
Maokaneng argues that article 21 of the electoral code was violated because, by his own admission, there was no invalid ballot paper as per the definition of the article.“My vote was not counted, reasons known by the secretariat who was verifying and conducting elections by helping the electoral committee member and further ignored Mr Leaketsa’s advice,” Bontshetse submitted.
He further argues that his ballot paper did not have any distinctive marks as defined by the electoral code. The ballot paper did not also bear any words except that of the candidate and could not be labelled as spoilt vote.
It turned out that Bontshetse’s vote was mistakenly thrown into a different box by a delegate but the electoral committee took a decision that it must be regarded as a spoilt vote. This occurred at Palapye voting centre.
“I refer you to the verbal protest that was lodged by an observer at Palapye regarding the counting of the ballot on which a vote under my name was disqualified without any valid reason, therefore contravening the electoral code,” he further submitted.
In conclusion, just like Sesinyi, Bontshetse seeks fresh elections for all candidates. He lost the post to Marshlow Motlogelwa. Bontshetse was voted by 28 delegates while Motlogelwa got 29 votes.
Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele will continue to be a resident at Limpopo Province after penning a two year deal with Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila Football Club. PIC: BACKPAGE
Ngele was formerly with Black Leopards where he endured a trophy-less season under different coaches. Leopards is also based in Limpopo province and will share the Thohoyandou stadium with Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Tshakhuma purchased the premier league status of Bidvest Wits few months ago.Ngele is expected to be unveiled alongside mega signings in the mould of former Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates midfielder Oupa Manyisa and Thabo Mnyamane of Supersport United.
Ngele left Black Leopards during the bio-bubble after it was discovered he had signed a pre-contract with Wits before the club was sold.Before agreeing a deal with TTM, Ngele was said to be torn between playing for one more year at South Africa and coming to Botswana to play for high paying Township Rollers.
The Rollers decision was to hinge on his private business where he wanted to monitor it closely. He owns a sporting clothing label and has already signed a two year deal with Notwane FC.Ngele’s career at Leopards blew hot and cold.
He only enjoyed his stay when his former coach Calvin Johnson was at the helm. He played crucial matches and his stunning free kick against Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs is still remembered by his followers.However, there have been many other factors at play.
It is said Ngele’s future at Black Leopards encountered problems of many kind. His future was believed to have been dulled by injuries and a confidence that strangely refused to bloom.The player was also said to have broken ranks with Leopards management where he shocked them when playing for the senior national team late last year albeit claiming to be suffering from a thigh injury.
Ngele went to South Africa on the books of Platinum Stars. His marvellous seasons with the club left Sundowns impressed and they wasted no time to sign him on a five-year contract deal.
This was after winning himself a couple of Man of the Match accolades before scooping the Telkom player of the season in the 2015 season.