There is something reassuring about Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ growing struggle to retain the core of the team in this pre season preparations. The thought is borne not of desire for Chiefs to fail or Township Rollers to succeed, but the simple wish to revive the struggle of winning back-to-back league titles revived.
As the Kgatleng giants have demonstrated in recent weeks, finishing first in one season does not necessarily make the exercise any easier the next time. BDF XI and Gaborone United may be obvious examples to the contrary yet in the 6 seasons since more money came into the game, with more lucrative league sponsorship deals, only two clubs have won the league with two or more years running.
The near monopolies of the championship enjoyed by Township Rollers from the mid-80s to 1990 and Gaborone United onwards may suggest that holding on to the title involves little other than updating a successful plot on a seasonal basis. Yet there was always much more to it than that.
The most significant setback this week turned out to be not the inconsequential skirmish at the Kgatleng outfit but the manner in which players and teams’ technical department is leaving the club.
The team however has not had pains and anxieties or any afflictions now. Chiefs are losing its most experienced players in Pontsho Moloi and Onalethata Thekiso due to retirement. The last thing Chiefs need is to be without Lesego Galenamotlhale because of wilting football interest. Tendai Nyumasi is reported to be flirting with Orapa United and may never ignore its pull. Speedy winger, Lemponye Tshireletso, the team’s leading top goal scorer is monitored by high paying Township Rollers, and if everything goes according to plan, a deal may be struck soon.
Another notable transfer is the one that involves slippery, Ayanda Molefhe who FC Galaxy has shown interest in. The player was quoted in some media outlets complaining about lack of game time at Magosi.
The coming season looks uncompromising for the team. For Centre Chiefs to fail when in sight of honours would be a rarity. For them to fail because of administrative shortcomings would be rarer still, yet to some extent, Chiefs have wished these problems on themselves.
Last season, Mike Sithole, the club past head coach, inherited and drilled an ageing squad that cracked whenever under pressure. But the coach admitted that it was given an extension by the arrival of Thato Kebue from Motlakase Power Dynamos and Arnold Mampori to tighten the midfield. Chiefs however bought them time to rebuild their defense but so far neither time nor money has been wholly well spent.
The experience of Pontsho Moloi is never going to be replaced straight away but should Chiefs have themselves so obviously in need of a figure of authority in front of goals? Mara Moloi has a massive physical presence but is no competitor particularly that money is a problem at Magosi.
But Chiefs spokesperson, Clifford Mogomotsi believes Chiefs are not in crisis and will soon reveal their strategy for next season.
‘‘We are still sorting ourselves out, make no mistake, this happens in almost every pre season but when the league ends we are at the top,’’ he said.
All the while the situation is beginning to resemble Chiefs’ vain attempt in yesteryears to complete the many seasons without a single recognized cup but if Chiefs suffer a double failure this time, most of the wounds will have been self-inflicted and the praise will be muted.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.
Township Rollers is anticipated to spent around P 50 000 to expatriate their foreign based players amid ravaging corona virus threats. The club, in collaboration with the Football Union of Botswana (FUB) tested Francis Afriyie, Fabian Assagou Guy and Kamogelo Matsabu before they can head to their native countries.
The trio are awaiting the results which are all expected to come out negative, following which they will immediately board planes to their various destinations. Afriyie was a Rollers striker from Ghana.
Matsabu, regarded the darling of the club is heading back to South Africa while Guy signed by the club but has never impressed, will board a plane back to Ivory Coast.It is likely that both Matsabu and Guy will return as they are still contracted to Rollers. However, Afriyie will not return after failing Rollers litmus test.
The striker failed to break into the starting 11 of head coach Frank Nuttall for the season and it appeared that frustration got to him. And when it finally knocked him down, the striker in a rough and unexpected remonstration stormed out of the bench while a Rollers game was on.
The former Gho Maria striker penned a two year deal in January and it is rumoured that his contract was heavily incentivized, catapulting him to being one of the highest paid players at Rollers.His end of season departure will now put a serious question mark over Rollers’ recruitment policy.
He becomes the fourth foreign striker to fail the club examinations and released while on contract. Before him was, Mthokosize Msomi from South Africa, Terrence Mandawa from Tanzania and Fabian Mbowa from Ivory Coast. Msomi and Mandawa’s release were sanctioned by former coach Nikola Kavazovic. Mbowa is loaned to Police XI to create space and playing opportunity for the now departing Afriyie.
Releasing Afriyie will now mean that the club’s striking woes continue. Rollers management complained at times last season at the lack of productivity from their strikers but they hoped that striker Tumisang Orebonye and other targeted signings, aided perhaps by Edwin Moalosi who remains on the books, could fire an upturn.
However, it was never meant to be as they finished the season second behind league winners, Jwaneng Galaxy.
Black Leopards head coach, Joel Masutha, is reported to have orchestrated a move that could see mid fielder-cum-striker, Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele, being dropped by Leopards.
WeekendSport has learnt that the coach summoned the Zebras former captain to a one-on-one meeting a month ago to relay the bad news. It is reported that Masutha told the player that he is surplus to requirement and therefore he will not be selected for any game unless he opts to leave.
Reports further state that Tsotso was not encouraged to fight for his position but instead was told that there are better players to be tasked with scoring responsibilities and helping the club to dodge the dreaded relegation axe.Ngele therefore is waiting for his contract to expire before plotting his next move. He is said to be torn between playing for one more year in South Africa and coming to Botswana to play for high paying Township Rollers.
The Rollers decision will once again hinge on his private business which he would love to monitor closely. He owns a sports clothing label where he 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 in crucial matches and his stunning free kick against log leaders Kaizer Chiefs is still remembered by his followers.However, there have been many other factors at play.It is said Ngele’s future at Thohoyandou- a location where Black Leopards is based- encountered problems of many kinds. His future is believed to have been dulled by injuries and a confidence that strangely refused to bloom.
The player is also said to have broken ranks with Leopards management where he shocked them when playing for the senior national team last year albeit claiming to be suffering from a thigh injury. Ngele had signed a two year deal, but as things stand, the left footed midfielder is heading out as his contract staggers to an end. He is believed to be earning close to R80 000 after tax deductions.
The lifestyle and living conditions at Thohoyandou are also seen as factors that further complicate Ngele’s situation hence the sudden collapse of concentration in football.Ngele is said to be represented by Tim Sukazi who still hopes that the player’s breakthrough career is worth fighting for.
When signed by high spending Mamelodi Sundowns almost 5 years ago, he was represented by Mike Makaab, also a renowned football agent in South Africa.It is growing precarious for Ngele who was chained for longer spells at Sundowns.
But when a move to Leopards was announced, there was a high expectation that the player was nearing his revolutionary season.