Township Rollers is preparing to secure the signature of rivals, Gaborone United top marksman and Namibian international Benson Shilongo .
According to reliable sources, Shilongo’s contract with ‘The Reds’ is coming to an end in July this year, easily making him a prime target for the Mma-Masire based outfit.
The high spending Rollers have been chasing the signature of the Namibian international ever since the 23 year old arrived in the country two seasons ago.
Shilongo has proved to be one of lethal goal poachers in the beMOBILE Premiership, his goals keeping United in the race for the top four finishes since his arrival at the club.
United will however not be prepared to let its star to join rivals without a fight, and it expected that the battle for the player will be decided by what the two clubs put on the table for the highly rated Namibian.
Born in Ongwediva, Shilongo joined United in 2014 from Tigers Windhoek after having a short spell in South Africa’s lower divisions playing for Blackburn Rovers. Shilongo has been part of the Namibian national team since making his debut two seasons ago, appearing 6 times on the score sheet in 12 games.
This season, despite GU having a wobbly season, which has resulted in coach, Rahman Gumbo and later Dragojlo Stanojlovic being shown the door, the lanky goal poacher was able to register his name 10 times in the scoring charts.
WeekendSport has established that Shilongo is the highest paid player at Gaborone United, taking home an excess of P18 000 on monthly basis. This would however not be a problem for Rollers, with several players on its squad earning above P20 000 a month.
Rollers are facing tough competition from Premier Soccer League clubs in South Africa who have been monitoring the progress of the player since last year’s COSAFA tournament exploits. Shilongo caught the eye of South African football scouts when he scored four goals to lead his national team to victory in the tournament held in South Africa.
United may be reluctant on losing their key man to rivals, but are open to a move that will take the Namibian to South Africa. After his COSAFA exploits last year, a number of South African inquired about his services, and club Secretary General Hebert Letsebe was unequivocal in declaring that; “They won’t deny their key man a move across the borders.”
The former Namibian youth team star left Namibia for Botswana in order to increase his chances of joining the PSL in neighbouring South Africa. His business manager Ercher Luanda had revealed when the youngster joined GU, that the Botswana Premier League (BPL) is highly rated by PSL teams, with several foreign players having used it as a stepping stone.
Among former and current PSL stars who have joined PSL from BPL are Mogogi Gabonamong, Joel Mogorosi, and Terence Mandaza, while the inform Tendai Ndoro and Tsotso Ngele left to join the league not long ago.
Sources at Rollers have also indicated that former club top goal scorer Terence Madanza is likely to pave way for Shilongo should the team secure the latter’s services.
Mandaza, who arrived at the club after the January transfer window is reportedly not in the books of British tactician, Mark Harrison. Sources indicate that the bully striker was signed against the will of the coach, and Harrison was hurt by the club’s decision of letting Carl Finningan go in January this year.
Finningan, who left the team during the January transfer window, announced his retirement after being requested to make way for Mandaza.
Mandaza, once a hit with Rollers fans failed to command a regular place since arriving at the club in January. He managed to appear on the score sheet only two times, enough to convince the Rollers technical team that he is surplus to requirements.
Gaborone United was this week crowned 2021/2022 Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions following their 1-0 win over the holders, Jwaneng Galaxy. Thero Setsile’s 13th minute’s goal was enough to seal the league championship, ending 13 years of drought from the Old Naledi outfit.
With two games to go before the top-flight season wraps up, Gaborone United opened a seven points gap to second placed Township Rollers having accumulated 63 points from twenty eight games. The Money machine were the first team to open a new chapter in the history books of Botswana football, when they were crowned the inaugural 2008/09 be Mobile Premiership champions, that came up with P1 million as prize money. Thereafter the club has been on the league drought as it could only manage winning Coca Cola FA Cup in 2012, Mascom top 8 twice in 2013 and 2015. They also won the Orange FA cup last season.
The return of Zackhem as the club financier signaled a new era with a number of galactic signings for the 2021/2022 season. The team brought into their fold big names in local football; Kekaetswe Moloi, Lesego Galenamotlhale and Joel Mogorosi. The arrival of enterprising left wing back Mothusi Johnson, dribbling wizard Mpho Kgaswane and hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele made the job easier for the coaches.
Attacker Onkabetse Makgantai also joined the marauding attackers in Thatayaone Kgamanyane and Thero Setsile to make their front line combination the deadliest in the league. Both Kgamanyane and Setsile have netted 34 goals this season with the goal minder Goitseone Phoko keeping 20 clean sheets thus far while conceding just 10 goals. GU is still on the Orange FA Cup race and football commentators believe that they are the favorites looking at the quality of their squad.
As it stands should the Money Machine win all their remaining games, they stand a chance to equal the highest championship winning points record of 76 points which set by Mochudi Center chiefs during the 2007-2008 football season. That record stood for 14 years and Gaborone United could equal that feat should they win their remaining games against Sua Flamingos and struggling Notwane. The Money Machine made the bold statement begging of the 2021/2020 football season when they won 11 games straight games without even conceding a goal.
The Reds, who are under the guidance of Innocent Morapedi, a seasoned coach and his assistant Pontsho Moloi, has been consistent in the title race. In the process, the Old Naledi side has scored 59 goals while conceding the least goals (10 goals) and has a superior goal difference of 49 goals. Gaborone United success breaks Township Rollers and Mochudi Center Chiefs dominance as the only teams to have won the league title more than any other club in the last 13 seasons. GU’s proximity to money and talent were key this season.
Domestically since GU last won the league title, Mochudi Center Chiefs have won it three times; whilst the most decorated football club with 16 titles, Rollers has been dominating the league, winning five titles on the spin in five seasons from 2013-14 to 2018-19. Last season, Jwaneng Galaxy was crowned champions for the very first time due to being at the top of the table when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be prematurely halted with ten games to play.
After two years of no action across various sports codes including softball, Botswana Softball Association (BSA) is going back to the grounds to resuscitate the sport.
This weekend all roads lead to Selibe Phikwe for the top eight ladies championship. The eight ladies teams comprise the top four ladies teams from the south and north regions. They will then come together and form eight teams and battle it out this weekend at the Phikwe Softball Grounds and Area 2 Mowana Ball Park. The competing ladies teams are Titans, Police, Vikings, UB Giants, Rail giants, Scramblers, Carats and Ghetto Yankees. The champions will be crowned thereafter.
Softball Association Public relations officer, Boingotlo Marope explained that this tournament is not only for ladies, she said men’s championship will be held at Gaborone on the 28th May 2022. She said they have noticed that everything is confined to Gaborone as their headquarters in the southern region. As a result they have decided to take other activities to the northern region as well. “We are trying to grow softball, we don’t want everything to surround Gaborone only which is why the ladies tournament will be held at Selebi Phikwe in the northern region to bring equality.”
However, she explained that the reason they were missing in action is because of Covid 19. “We saw government cautionary trying to protect everyone by putting certain restrictions as spots had to stop for 12 months, we welcomed 12 months to protect Batswana. As a results that lead to the closure as there were no games”.
In addition Marope said they currently don’t have sponsors however private sector has always come through. Bofinet has to cut the sponsorship but that is not due to Covid 19 crisis. “Bofinet has showed commitment, they promised that as soon as they are settled they will come to our door knocking again,” she added.
Marope further said as a results they rely on their tight budget. Few of players has been sponsored, some has to dig from their own pockets, some parents cannot sent their children as some had to quit. “We have worked with our tight budget to assist teams and hoping that in the coming season we can have somebody to assist”.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.