The last two weeks of May were dominated by reports that long time Gaborone United financier, Nicholas Zakhem was quitting the club. Zakhem had announced that he will soon pack his bags and leave a club he has been baby-sitting financially for a decade.
Zakhem and GU have been in a partnership for the past ten years eventually turning the club to be the shining example of football commercialization which could advise the local soccer scene in that direction.
The BFA president, Tebogo Sebego was pained by Zakhem eminent departure. He declared that if he wielded much power he could have declared a weeklong mourning for the loss of this ‘foot soldier’ (Zakhem) who was pragmatic and walking the talk of Sebego’s slogan of commercialization.
“It is a sad day for football,” Sebego had said in one of the local publications.
However when many especially the GU family were coming to terms with the reality of GU without Zakhem, fresh information surfacing this week offers a glimmer of hope.
Zack as the construction magnate is fondly referred to, is said to be having an undying love for the Old Naledi based club.
“He won’t go anywhere. It was just a gimmick, he is a GU diehard, he only wanted to shake them to cultivate the dying loyalty to him,” a source said.
Among the reasons forwarded for his threat to leave was the team’s court case expected in September which he is uncomfortable with. Zakhem is accused of orchestrating the elevation of Rapula Okaile to the GU chairmanship. Those against Okaile questioned his GU membership and alleged that he was illegitimate.
“We are currently negotiating with him and I won’t share more details because this could jeopardize the talks,” Okaile said on Thursday when contacted for comment.
When Zakhem announced his departure, GU’s fears were borne out of the heavy contractual obligations the club has with players. Most of GU’s players are housed at Zakhem’s estate in Mogoditshane.
The players are still accommodated at the Estate to date, a factor which sources say shows that, “Zakhem is here to stay.”
According to the Money machine insiders, he gave the players until next year to vacate his houses because he wanted to give them enough notice before they vacate.
While the team is currently embroiled in a tug of war against rivals, Township Rollers and South African teams over the services of the Namibian forward, Benson Shilongo, Zakhem is said to have entered the fray representing GU.
Reports indicated that this week the player and the financier were to meet and agree personal terms.
“He is sweet talking the player to sign a new contract and he promised to pay him personally because players doubt the steadiness of the team hence their reluctance to commit long term.”
These developments together with the fact that the team’s AGM is in July could help mend relations between the investor and some personalities in the team’s hierarchy.
In fact the announcement that he was quitting, according to those in the know, was an approach to appease his ego with the hope that the team will up their game more so he feels he is the same top dog he used to be when he joined the team.
“It is simple he wants more shares to run the team; and this will be on the agenda for the AGM for the membership to decide,” another source said.
Zakhem’s Soccer Dynamics which was running the affairs of the team owns 51% and the remaining 49% is for the society.
Information before Weekendsport shows that the fall out between the two allies started after Okaile assumed office and tried to balance things by consulting with other members of the society on the subject of shareholding.
“Remember Rapula was under pressure that he wasn’t the legitimate chairman of the team and he tried to engage the society a lot. The Society was concerned that it was being sidelined,” the sources added that, “But this angered Zakhem and he felt that he was not appreciated hence his threat to quit.”
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.