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Nato ruling: The implications

Defaulter:  Ofentse Nato

High flying Township Rollers have finally succumbed to a lower trench of defeat after losing a long standing legal battle against Gilport Lions over the registration of midfielder Ofentse Nato.

The team perched at the summit of the log standings had their bubble burst when the Botswana Football Association National Disciplinary Committee (BFA DC) categorically stated that the player, in the eye of the storm, was improperly registered thus contravening football laws.

The judgment deliberated and read Tuesday night meant that the Gaborone West based giants will lose 3 points and 2 goals in favor of Gilport Lions.

To further pull Rollers into the jaws of the law, the team has been instructed to pay BWP 1000 for every game that the Zebras assistant captain has played, and his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) has been peculiarly cancelled.

The BFA DC took their decision leaning on FIFA-world football governing body statutes. Article 22 states that players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association.

As an exception to this rule, a professional whose contract has expired prior to the end of a registration period may be registered outside that registration period. Associations are authorised to register such professionals provided due consideration is given to the sporting integrity of the relevant competition. Where a contract has been terminated with just cause, FIFA may take provisional measures in order to avoid abuse.

Gilport Lions argued that Nato’s contract expired on December of 2015 and to register him outside the window period of January was with an intention of bending the rules.

The consequences of the matter immediately pronounce worry and anxiety on the team that looked ready to step onto the podium as be-MOBILE premiership kings.

With three points deducted, the team will no longer enjoy the comfort of running on to the last two hurdles as firm favorites. As things stand, a solitary point separates them from rivals Orapa United. Rollers have gone down to 61 points while United has 60.

TITLE RACE TILT

After the conclusion of week 27 games, Rollers were meters away from their destiny, having brushed aside a spirited Police XI side by a solitary goal.

The stubborn Mark Harrison side needed to confirm that they are champions, with only one game to spare. No doubt that ailing Serowe based outfit, Green Lovers were never going to be a stumbling block.

The judgment has now changed dynamics for the champions elect. While pressure is a mountain with the team synonymous with paying ‘fat salaries’, the last game against tricky Orapa United is now carrying more significance.

Gilport Lions might be boasting with the expected ‘soft points’, but the pendulum is now swinging clearly between Orapa United and Township Rollers. Holders of the beMOBILE trophy, Mochudi Centre Chiefs are mathematically in the race, but endless boardroom and technical team wars put a dent in their intent of mounting a convincing challenge.  
Should both Rollers and Orapa United continue with their impressive form, their match scheduled for the 7th of May promises to be a memorable one.

SEQUENCE OF NATO REGISTRATION

Documents perused by WeekendSport revealed a transfer scam almost manufactured under the most shrouded circumstances to have the Mogobane born player registered at the premier league before the closure of January transfer window.

Background information showed that on Monday 1st of February, when the Botswana Premier League issued a press release to confirm completed transfers of players, Ofentse Nato’s name was not appearing. This was the case because Botswana Football Association (BFA), an overseer of the premier league, had made it clear that registration of players (whether new or old), transfers or loaning of players shall not be allowed after the 31st of January.

While the status of Nato, whose other name is Moepi, is before independent bodies, the view point from other quarters is that the former Gaborone United midfielder could have still been registered outside the transfer window only after his status was first dealt with.

The discrepancies surrounding the 27 year player’s transfer emanates from the license form to certificates of fitness. As per procedure, this publication learnt that once the license is granted by a relevant football authority, all other needed documentation should have already been dealt with. Ofentse Nato’s playing license indicates that it was issued on January 31st. In it, a date of 8th February 2016 was captured regarding his fitness, and does not correspond with that of the medical certificate issued by one Dr Lambert.  Nato was thus certified fit to play on the 10th of February 2016. The license form bears signatures of the player, Rollers’ Secretary General, Khumo Masonya and the medical doctor.

All India Football Federation  issued Nato’s  transfer certificate on 9th of February 2016, 7 days after the player penned a four months deal with the high flying Township Rollers.

The abnormally is that all these were completed after the license was issued.

Further, it was discovered that on the 5TH of February 2016, a letter without an addressee was issued stating that Nato had ended his contract with Athletico De Kolkata on 22nd December 2015. The letter bears the stamp of the premier league but curiously, the stamp of Athletico De Kolkata is not appearing. It reads in part, ‘‘for appropriate purposes, we communicate that Ofentse Nato has ended his contract with Athletico De Kolkata on 22.12.2015.’’

While it is a matter of fact that on the 2nd of February 2016, the towering midfielder signed a contract with Popa, other evidence suggests that the player through his agent was negotiating with former local club, Gaborone United as late as on 5th February 2016.
 

How it happened
 

Chronology of Nato transfer
January 31st- license application form was stamped and issued
O2 February- Nato signed contract with Rollers
10th February- Nato ‘s fitness was examined
5th February-release letter issued from De Kolkata
9th February- Nato international transfer Certificate was issued

WHAT THEY SAID

Gilport Lions Chairman, Kelesitse Gilika said his team was following principle and not necessarily three points. He asserted that Lions were not fighting Rollers but wanted football to be the winner at the end of the day.

Township Rollers media liaison, Phempheretlhe Bafana Pheto said that the club was waiting for a printed judgment before making an official statement. He pointed out that Nato will not be playing more so that his transfer certificate has been revoked.

BFA Chief Executive Officer, Kitso Kemoeng added that they are still studying the judgment carefully and will comply with the orders after fully understanding all the details.

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Sport

GU wins title after 13 years

23rd May 2022
GU

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.

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Sport

Softball returns to play

23rd May 2022
Softball

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”.

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Sport

Botswana ranked 4th in Zone 4 boxing tourney

4th May 2022
Boxing

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.

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