Rollers courts Shilongo
Gaborone United top marksman, Benson Shilongo
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.
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The senior national team, the Zebras, is currently in Equatorial Guinea to for an African Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie. Before they departed, the team’s coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, had his troops train in Morocco. This was through the agreement between the two countries.
The agreement between the BFA and the Fédération Moroccan Football Association states that the two nations will work together to organize friendly matches between their respective national teams. It also allows the establishment of football camps for the youth categories (U-15, U-17, and U-20), this includes women’s national teams.
The national team has played over 180 minutes in its two qualifying matches against Tunisia and Libya. Currently, the Zebras, Lesotho and Liberia are the only teams that haven’t scored yet in the competition (this is correct by press time on Friday).
Before the match against Equatorial Guinea match, the local boys who were once known as the whipping boys of Africa in the early 2000s, were languishing at the bottom of the log standings in group J. They lost their first match away to Libya on June 1, 2022. However, they managed to salvage a point against Tunisia last year.
Before the team left for Equatorial Guinea, coach Mpote urged his players to focus on keeping their hopes of making a return trip to the AFCON finals alive after an 11 year absence since the maiden appearance in 2012. He noted that they would not allow their opponents to score and would ensure that they would get a draw.
Despite the various changes that have occurred in the two countries’ football landscape, the two teams have only met once before. In 2010, the local boys defeated the Equatorial Guinea team in a friendly match, which ended in an emphatic win for the visitors. Since then, the two sides have realised different fortunes in FIFA rankings, with Equatorial Guinea ranked 51 places above the Zebras.
Meanwhile, in their last six games, Guinea has only managed to win one of them. They drew with Rwanda and Togo in September 2022 friendlies. They have found the back of the net just twice in their six games. On the other hand, the Zebras, won one match against Zambia and lost four on their way to finishing at the bottom of the group with four points. At the conclusion of their previous AFCON campaign, the local boys traveled to Zambia and secured a draw.
Despite the recent results of the Guinean team, which have only managed to draw with Rwanda and Togo in their last six matches, coach Mpote is still confident that his team will perform well against the hosts.
According to the head coach, the local boys have the necessary skills and resources to perform well against any country. He noted that the team’s coaches have been studying abroad to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of football.
“Tactically they should also be ready. We need your (Botswana fans) usual support, when we come back from Equatorial Guinea, we will go to Francistown, and we will need you. You are our 12th player, and you are very important to us.”
OBED ITANI CHILUME STADIUM CERTIFIED
This week, the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Tuelo Serufho revealed that the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium will host the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the local boys and Equatorial Guinea. The venue had initially failed an inspection test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, following the completion of the necessary works, the stadium was allowed to host the match.
According to BNSC Chief, Tuelo Serufho, the various requirements that the stadium must meet included having a designated parking area for the media and spectators, as well as having signage that will guide the spectators. He also noted that the venue now has a world-class media area.
Jagdish Shah rejects Rollers society
Township Rollers, one of the country’s most decorated football clubs with 15 premier league titles, is finding itself in a precarious situation as its long-term chief financier, Jagdish Shah, threatens to dump them if the society does not bow down to his demand of forfeiting their 20 percent interest in the company.
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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon
Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.
He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.
The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.