While the beMobile Premier League crown is question, with official winners Township Rollers uncertain due to Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ protests over Ofentse Nato, individual accolades will not be in doubt at the ceremony.
It is expected that the outstanding performers of the football season will be rewarded by the sponsor.
The attention-grabbing, and perhaps most sought after award will be the Player of the Season award which three players – Rollers captain, Maano Ditshupo; Olekantse Mambo of Orapa United; and Chiefs captain, Lesego Galenamotlhale – as nominees.
Despite the trio enjoying a good season, observers seem to put their money on either Mambo or Ditshupo. The two will re-ignite a rivalry previously witnessed at the GICC last Thursday when they fought for the Mascom Top 8 Player of the Tournament. Ditshupo took it home then.
Aboutreika as the Rollers skipper is affectionately known has played 29 of the premiership games. He anchored the Rollers first eleven together with his partner, Lawrence Majawa.
Besides, he has been one of the hard-working and consistent midfielders in the league who helped Rollers in their quest to win the league trophy. His ability to score goals from the middle of the park ultimately winning some Man of the Match awards are demonstration that he deserves recognition.
On the other hand, the towering Mambo born defender has played 28 premier league games this season eventually making the central defence position his own.
He managed to grab some Man of the Match awards on numerous occasions, especially against Rollers in Itekeng and Gaborone United. He also became one of the few players to be bestowed with player of the month recognition.
This outstanding performance even attracted national team selection. His presence alongside Thabang Mosige saw the Ostriches conceding only 17 goals making them the least conceding team in the league.
MARK’S TACTICS VS MIKE’S SHRINKING SQUAD
This category has pitted the top three gaffers in the Premier League. The three coaches will fight for the coveted price of P25 000.
Madinda Ndlovu, having led Orapa United to position three after winning 17 games, drawing nine and losing four does not make his record any better than of his predecessor Maxwell Moyo.
Although he made the league marathon interesting by maintaining the pressure on pace setters Rollers, it should be noted that towards the end of the season, Orapa United was not the same team that started the season in August.
They lost at home against Gilport Lions – It was the first loss to a premier league side in two years. This was followed by a loss to Township Rollers in the penultimate game.
Township Rollers English coach, Mark Harrison despite entering the local football scene as a closed book – without any league honor, he went on to feed the doubting Thomases a humble pie.
Under his mentorship Popa Popa registered 70 points to make him a champion coach. They won 24 games and his technical prowess could not be underestimated as he managed to overcome tough opponents like Centre Chiefs and Orapa United. His team list consistency and giving young blood a chance was another plus for the Briton gaffer.
Mike Sithole efforts at Chiefs cannot be ignored. The Zambian mentor had a tumultuous time this season when he had to race with a very thin squad that could not be trusted to defend the league.
However he defied the odds and fought until the last match. His team almost took home after a temporary docking of points against Township Rollers.
A small squad in comparison to his counterparts puts him at an advantage because his ability to switch players also paid dividends. When Arnold Mampori was injured he called on Galenamotlhale to destroy in the middle and bring stability in the team eventually lifting the trophy.
ROBERT’S SUPERIOR CLEAN SHEET RECORD
The trio of Kabelo Dambe, Mosimanegape Robert and the youthful Anthony Gouws will be tussling to claim the best goalkeeper accolade which attracts a P10 000 prize money.
Here statistics favor the reigning Mascom Top 8 goalkeeper of the tournament, Robert. He conceded only 17 and managed about seven clean sheets this season. Robert’s command in the 18yard box has made him one of the respected goal minders this season; a factor that saw him being selected for the national team.
Rollers goalie, Dambe conceded 22 goals this season. The number of goals conceded and the fact that he had an experienced defense could irk the assessors much more so he is also the number one national team keeper.
However it should be noted that he produced some critical saves during the course of the season. Some were the difference between Rollers winning and losing match.
Dambe’s main undoing has been poor communication and failure to deal with crosses.
As for Kanye born Gouws, it was just a motivation to the young man. He has conceded 33 goals which saw his team make it to the top eight with 44 points. In the first stanza he never enjoyed game time until Philani Mabhena took over the dressing room control and anointed him his number one.
Other interesting categories will is the Young player of the season award which has Gilport Lions winger, Kabelano Mooketsane; Orapa United striker, Thabang Sesinyi; and Rollers defender Kaone Vanderwesthuizen, as nominees. The winner pockets P10 000.
Referee of the season will see Joshua Bondo, Lekgotla Johannes and Tirelo Mositwane vying for the P15 000 prize money; while the trio of Oamogetse Godisamang, Bakwena Simankalele and Moemedi Monakwane will tussle for the P15 000 of assistant referee award.
Other categories like player’s player of the season and supporters’ player of the season winners will be announced on the day.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is running without a substantive Technical Director since parting ways with South African native, Serame Letsoaka, who jumped ship midway through his contract in 2019.
This glaring revelation has left the Technical Department of the association hamstrung to fully operate by the book hence a plethora of problems protruding on the very nose of it.
This is the reason it took long for the association to take stern action against Zebras gaffer, Adel Amrouche. His departure was sanctioned at the eleventh hour when players’ patience had long wilted, threatening to leave the camp.
Pundits will therefore observe that it is the absence of a Technical Director that has caused all hell to break loose at Lekidi Football Centre.Since the departure of Letsoaka, the TD position has been more or less vacant as it has been manned by unqualified and somewhat incompetent administrators to date.
The TD position requires a CAF A-License qualification as well as a Diploma in Secondary Education as minimum qualifications. Among the specific duties of TD is; training and development of coaches, including design and updating of coaches manuals, facilitating licensing courses, developing a coaches Code of Conduct, arranging for expert and specialist coaches to deliver training clinics, education on rules of the game and creating and maintaining a library of resources including books, videos and articles for coaches to access.
The responsibility also include establishing and delivering a comprehensive and nationwide Grassroots programme at both the community level, in schools, and in the schools through clubs through strategic partnerships within the communities and with various government ministries and agencies.
TD also advices BFA on all matters related to the effective development of football in Botswana and is accountable for the development of a strategy and policy for the performance of football programmes.
Other duties include working with Youth National teams and coaches through development programmes in order to enable BFA to attain its goals within CAF and FIFA, including putting in place clear systems and processes for identifying and developing talented players.
After Letsoaka left, BFA reached out to Wire Kaelo, a Gaborone United legend currently holding the position of assistant coach at Security System FC, but eventually he was not appointed to the post.
Despite rumours to the effect that BFA had agreed terms with Kaelo to this day, the Association has not come out as to what happened to the alleged marriage.
BFA subsequently appointed one Dr Carolin Braun, on secondment from the German Olympic organisation, a move that left the association rooted in abrasive factionalism.
In particular, local coaches and the general football fanatics have always cried foul claiming that Dr Braun is not fit to hold the position of TD especially in a growing football environment like Botswana.
There is growing concern that Dr Braun does not have the pre-requisite credentials to be appointed for this plum post as she has never held any significant position within the football fraternity, not even at amateur level.
“It was a first in the history of Botswana football to see a TD doubling up as assistant coach to the senior national team and there has been no tangible coaching courses since the departure of Serame Letsoaka and this has been attributable to the vacant position of TD,” a source remarked.
BFA is currently failing to communicate CAF’s decision that the ill-fated CAF “B” and “C” courses held during Serame’s last days were not sanctioned and therefore attendants will not be certificated.
Over 50 local coaches participated in the courses and last year, most of those coaching in the Premier League had to be given waivers by the BFA Technical Committee before they could be accredited.
CAF has since indicated that the issue of waivers by national associations will not be entertained, something which might throw local games into disarray.BFA is still failing to come up with a coaching philosophy despite Serame having started groundwork before his departure.
Other countries such as Zambia have since resumed CAF coaching courses whilst in Botswana is still business as usual despite the impending challenges caused by indiscretion and lack of foresight.
Despite BFA having advertised the position of TD and subsequently holding interviews where recommendations were done by the Technical and Development Committee, the BFA NEC has refused to endorse the recommendation for reasons only best known to them.
Yet, there is a lingering fact that the NEC is clueless when it comes to technical matters. There is not even a single individual in the NEC who holds any coaching qualification including the Chairman of the member responsible for technical and development matters, Masego Ntshingane.
When asked about the position of the TD, Ntshingane said the association is well aware of the matter and will son fill the post. “Yes, it is true the association has not appointed a TD after Letsoaka’s departure, but we are working around the clock to hire capable people,” he said.
However, local coaches believe that it’s a travesty of justice to expect non-technical people to make meaningful contributions on technical matters to the extent that they can veto recommendations from a committee of renowned technical experts.
It is not business as usual in the operations manual of African football. Ever since the ascendency of Dr. Patrice Motsepe to the CAF plum post, the African football governing body is ringing changes to satisfy the demands and governance standards of the modern game.
However, it appears that what is coming out from the high offices of the game is a bitter pill to swallow for local clubs, some of which are touted to be the best in the land.
Connectedly, CAF has issued a circular to the effect that only coaches holding the CAF “A” education license will be permitted to sit on the technical dugout during the upcoming inter club competitions. This communication has been sent to all 54 CAF member associations in May 2021.
However, it seems local clubs have not been appraised on this development even though both Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United have shown desire to represent the country in the CAF competitions.
It comes to the fore now that the two clubs can successfully represent the country if they engage coaches with the pre-requisite qualifications which is now an insurmountable task due to the COVID-19 impact on club finances.
Both clubs have hired coaches who attended the ill-fated BFA conducted CAF “B” and “A” coaching courses which were held in Lobatse almost two years ago.
To date the coaches await the completion of the courses and certificates while CAF has made it clear that the courses were not sanctioned as they were held during the era that coaching licenses were suspended, a situation that BFA was well aware of and has since accepted the consequences.
The BFA is still at sixes and sevens on how to break the issue to the affected coaches as it is likely to cause a huge public embarrassment and backlash from the coaching fraternity.
“We all know about the problem, BFA is promising to come to the bottom of the matter as we continue to engage them,” says Botswana Football Coaches Association (BFCA) interim President, Daniel Nare.
CAF has also made it clear that this time there will be no waiver for coaches without the pre-requisite qualification because the Confederation has been too lenient in the past. During the last CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, both Galaxy and Orapa United coaches were given a reprieve by CAF Technical Department as they did not even have the CAF “B” license.
When approached for clarity, the Spokesperson for Galaxy, Tankiso Morake said they are playing a waiting game when it comes to CAF issues especially that BFA is yet to reply to their letter. “Honestly, there is nothing concrete I can share because no one is certain about anything. We are waiting to be replied by the association so that we can finalize everything,” he said.
While United was not available for comment, it is clear that both clubs will need to hire coaches with the needed qualifications otherwise playing in this year’s edition of African football mirrors a tomorrow that may never come.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.