A song for one of the most successful captains in the country
It is the afternoon of one of the weekends of November and Week 11 of 2006/07 Mascom Premier League is in full swing. In the 83rd minute of this classic fixture between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers, Chiefs winger Pontsho Moloi performs wizardry that would determine the result of the game and embody the spirit of the revolutionary Kgatleng side and would transform local football.
‘Piro’ received a pass from Elijah Montsho on the right flank, drove towards Rollers left back Lolo Mosojane. The veteran Rollers defender was left on the ground while Moloi now faced central defender Barry Hangunyu who is also left eating grass while the winger put the ball past hapless Rollers goalkeeper Lesego Moeng. Chiefs go on to win the game by 2-1.
Since that encounter a lot was said of Moloi. Magosi supporters composed a song; Kgalema Lenyatso Piro, the chanting of the song was memorable and this was because in a way, Moloi had ended Rollers’s reign. He had helped Magosi bring down long time rivals in the game. Piro, like other football greats such as David Beckham, in a similar manner displayed a wizardry trademark which football lovers would tag the ‘PM turn’. It was at this moment that the black and white side resurged, with Moloi as the conductor.
Through his incredible footwork and thinking, Moloi was a modern winger who could attack with venom slicing defenders, scoring goals and creating assists causing his teammates to bring out their best for the team. “He was one of the skillful wingers that would keep you in your toes for the entire game and if you were to face him you had to be ready both physically and mentally,” ex Rollers and national team defender Seabo “Seabee” Gabanakgosi said.
Pontsho “Piro, Master-Twitter” Moloi was born on the 28th of November 1981 in Gaborone at the notorious location of extension 27. He started his football at a development team called Masa-Masa at Primary level. He then left to Young Strikers in the Junior category where he won the Chappies little league, before joining Notwane in 1999 where he was promoted to the senior team two years later at the age of 19. In 2006, after seven years with the player, Notwane lost one of their prized assets to Chiefs, and the disbelief was that he was signed for free; this move became a talk of the town for the better part of the transfer window more so it was the biggest move in the local football scene by then.
“That was so emotional because that’s where I cut my first teeth and it (Notwane) exposed me to a lot of things,” Moloi said, “but I had to move on and look for better pastures and Chiefs offered me that.”
In 2010 Moloi was signed by South African side Bay United for a season, and again before leaving Notwane he enjoyed some short stint at Cyprus. In his illustrious football career, Moloi featured in all the national development sides and also became part of the historic 2012 AFCON qualifying squad.
When he left Notwane, part of the debate was his attitude towards the game. Piro was accused of indiscipline in the field of play but ever since joining Chiefs he has been a different player.
“I was still a youngster by then, but as you grow you notice that at some point you were wrong,” PM 7, as the player was fondly called said.
One of the games that would always remain in many people’s memory was the 2005/06 season encounter between Notwane and Naughty Boys, when Piro received marching orders after he overreacted following his younger brother Dirang being given a red-card. However at Chiefs he found the likes of the then captain Noah “Stooge” Kareng who molded him.
Nowadays Pontsho is a true role model.
“I have always looked up to him and I am so excited to be with him on the same team, he is always there to give me some advices,” Chiefs wonder-kid, Ayanda Molefe could say about the legendary captain.
Chiefs under the armband of Moloi bagged five league titles and one FA cup honours which had previously eluded the club.
“His contribution was immeasurable, he helped us win the league and FA cup, you must remember that these trophies have eluded us but in the presence of him we defied the odds,” chiefs spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi told Weekendsport.
Piro’s first achievement was winning the golden boot in his maiden season after scoring 22 goals before helping Magosi win their first ever league honour in 2007/08 in undefeated fashion, again in the same season, he helped the team win the FA cup. The following season they finished second best after GU narrowly beat them to win the trophy in photo-finish style.
Other titles were in 2011/12, 2012/13, 2014/15 and the just ended 2015/16 season.
“Piro is one of the boys that grew before me and we went through a lot. I remember one day I substituted him in less than 10 minutes in Lobatse, he cried such that after the game he told his mother how I didn’t treat him well but I explained to the mother that I wanted the best out of the boy, so when I look back and see where we are now and look at his achievements as well, I can only smile,” former Notwane captain Fabian Zulu remembered.
Moloi has been a true legend for football not only for Chiefs. “It has been a long journey and with the support from the Chiefs family I have been able to reach my destiny,” Moloi said after the game against Galaxy with the famous Kgalema Lenyatso Piro hit on the background.
“We will meet as the board and see how best to assist him either as team manager or one of the administration portfolios,” Mogomotsi said.
Ever since joining the Kgatleng side, a decade ago Chiefs has been the most consistent team in the league and putting the then dominant Gaborone sides; Rollers and GU under pressure. The song Kgalema Lenyatso Piro will long live, he instilled discipline to both teams and ensured that Magosi got the respect only befitting kings.
The qualifying rounds of the next edition of 2022 Africa Cup of Nations are nearing resumption. But it looks more and stiffer for Adel Amorouche and the Zebras to maneuver the qualifying terrain in March.
So many hurdles lie ahead as the Zebras desperately need to gallop and cross the line. Having drawn tougher opponents that include African champions Algeria and South African perennial campaigners Zimbabwe and Zambia, the contrast with these nations’ squad buoyancy could not be starker.
But what is even more complicated from the Zebras camp is the amount of hostility the coach is forced to face just few days after calling his supposedly troops into camp.
The Algerian gaffer — who is tasked with guiding the squad to the finals of the prestigious tournament for the first time after 9 years — is reportedly facing fresh accusation bordering on favouritism, abuse and sabotage.
This week alone about four players left the camp on different occasions but with similar reasons; that the coach is verbally abusing them.
Amorouche, a well-known strict disciplinarian, is also accused of side-lining players who refuse to agree to his secretly established love of selling national team players to oversee countries.
It has become public knowledge that Amrouche has sold Kabelo Seakanyeng and two former Township Rollers players, Simisane Mathumo and Tumisang Orebonye to a Morocco based club.
It is said on Monday of this week, he attempted to negotiate terms with defender Lesenya Ramoraka for a deal to be established. Those close to the developments state that the former Highlands Park player refused altogether to heed to Amoruche’s call, something that compelled the coach to chase away the player under the pretext that he is injured.
It turns out that indeed Ramoraka is still battling with a recurring knee injury he sustained while at Highlands Park but sources disclose that Amrouche forced matters for Ramoraka to come to camp. Was Amrouche compromised? The question brings multifarious answers.
“The player was called with full knowledge that he is carrying an injury, but it raises eyebrows in the manner he was chased. I mean there is no assessment of his injury, there is no report whatsoever,” a source shared.
It does not end here. Gaborone United player Tshepo Maikano also stormed out of the camp after enduring a tongue lash from his boss. It is said the player did not take it kindly and so was another GU player, Mothusi Thupa.
GU has since written a letter to the association seeking clarity about the development.When asked for comment, national team manager Monnakgotla Mojaki refused to answer to questions from this publication and said the coach himself is better placed to respond.
In 2019, Amrouche took what was an infamous decision to suspended four players from Zebras camp. At the time, the coach argued that the quartet of Mothusi Cooper, Thero Setsile, Onkabetse Makgantai and Mothusi Johnson failed to show seniority and professionalism. But he has since pardoned them.
Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) says it is familiarising itself with full details of the issue. Kgosana Masaseng, the Secretary General of the Union said if it really true, then the coach has to man up or face the sack.
“We also hear that as grapevine but we are monitoring the situation. Should this come out as the truth, we call the coach to resign and go home than start abusing players in the name of discipline,” Masaseng said.
Zebras will face The Warriors of Zimbabwe in March but there is strong argument in the ground that Amrouche has already scored an own goal.On the other hand, stories of a disjointed association and less competitive league do point rather wearily to the basic obstacle on Botswana’s own path that for so many years of separation of ownership and club control, with many investors coming to the game and now the Premier League edging Botswana national team’s concerns to the fringes.
Against Zambia last year, Amrouche intended on bringing psychology and massive training to the game, but it also seems that, as much as he want to copy the style of other countries, basic skill is still a needed requirement. To date, Zebras game is based around a diligent, muscular defense and a fast-breaking, penetrative attack by opponents.
Amrouche now know a 2022 failure will not be accepted when the campaign takes another twist. It is safe to forget about Zambia, but as for Botswana, patience is fast running thin.
The Botswana Football Association Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabiso Kebotsamang has denied claims that there is racism at the ongoing Zebras camp.
Zebras’ players reported for camp last week to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier clash with Zimbabwe to be played next month in Francistown.
Botswana is third on the Group H with a point behind Zimbabwe and a win for the Zebras will see them leapfrog Zimbabwe to be second on the log before heading to the already qualified Algeria.
The camp has however been surrounded with controversy after some players were said to have been kicked out of camp.
“We have seen the reports on social media but I can confirm that there is no racism in our camp and we as an association will do not tolerate that and what I have been told is that players were assessed and as the norm some will be dropped due to injuries and various reasons,” said Kebotsamang, who ascended to the hot seat after the association parted ways with Mfolo Mfolo last year.
According to sources within the Zebras camp some players, Tshepo Maikano and Lesenya Ramoraka are said to have left the camp as they felt the coach gave them a strong lashing.
“Tshepo Maikano did not appreciate the way coach Adel criticised him for one of the goals scored by Zambia in the first leg fixture. We were doing drills, and time again he reminded Maikano how he failed the team to defend that moment,” said a source.
“Maikano felt hard done as the coach repeated the same thing over and over again even though he saw that the player felt bad about it.
“As for Ramoraka he came with an injury and he could not continue as he wants to fully recover unlike Thatayaone Dithokwe who sacrificed himself for the nation it’s just that he opts to be fully fit before coming back to play.”
The source revealed further that coach Ambrouche is a very demanding coach and wants players to deliver at all times and sometimes players may take his message wrongly.
“I think he should balance being hard and sometimes be soft so we as players can relate to him openly because now players are a bit scared of him,” continued the source.
When contacted for comment Gaborone United Director Nicholas Zackhem said they are yet to meet with the player and get the story first hand from him.
Meanwhile Orapa United mouth piece Kabo William said they were surprised to learn of their player’s return from Zebras camp on social media, indicating that they should have been informed by the association once the player was released or when the association found out he is missing in camp to avoid conflicts between club and country in future.
The Zebras camp will continue next month, with foreign based players expected to join local ones as the nation looks to qualify for their second Africa Cup of Nations.
Negotiations between Lobatse based outfit Extension Gunners and transport logistic company DC Tours have collapsed frantically with the latter growing ever more frustrated and withdrew their touted P 2million investment amid fears that the club is unstable and not ready for change.
The company walked away after one single meeting with Gunners management before it was pushed away, reports claim.
DC Tours are said have grown annoyed by the manner in which Gunners management arranged and held the discussions.
The club is said to have sent their player Dirang Moloi to represent them, something that did not go well with the company high ranking authority.
Moloi is a player but also an upcoming business man who happened to be the provider of the club’s merchandise last season but sources inside Gunners management felt that, in Moloi, the club failed to calculate the amount of serious coming from DC Tours corner.
DC Tours was said to be star struck by Gunners as one of the most supported brand, but their approach to serious matters has left the travel and transport logistic company with no choice.
It was reported that DC Tours was at an advanced stage to inject start-up capital and acquire 80% of shares but their bid was heavily reliant on the Gunners management decision.
The first stage of agreement was deliberated and decided in principle over the cause of last year, although details remain sketchy even to this date. The deal was supposed to follow many years of casting empty promises by the club previous committees to bring on board a trusted investor and traverse the commercialisation route.
Although sources say it is against the club’s constitution to run Extension Gunners that is operating as a society thorough contract management deal, any other worries and loopholes were to be dispelled to leverage a spade work on amendment of the constitution.
It was to be agreed that the club‘s account was to remain operational while DC Tours was to be in charge of finances and set to give Gunners society at least one third of the investments at the end of every football season.
The deal was to be concluded before the commencement of the new season and a space was left out for other companies who may want to partner with the Peleng outfit to come on board, sources claim. Late last year, it was also rumoured that the club was negotiating with former CMB Chairman, Okaile Rapula, but that never proved to be true.
Extension Gunners finished last season in a very uncompromising situation. The club has never known peace since winning the then Coca Cola cup in 1992. After one Tariq Babitseng was voted as club Chairman, the club battled identity crisis as the committee split and factionalism took centre stage.
However, Gunners management refused to share details about the DC Tours partnership.