Chiefs’ protest attracts backlash
Rollers Coach, Mark Harrison
Ailing Mochudi Center Chiefs ‘holocaust plan’ to initiate a second protest on their Mascom Top 8 encounter against blood rivals Township Rollers has gone down as the most ill informed decision manufactured to destroy the promising career of Ofentse Nato.
The protest questioning the validity of Nato’s transfer threatens to rekindle personal clashes between premier league club authorities and the out-spoken national team coach, Peter James Butler who has openly criticized the move.
Butler together with Rollers mentor, Mark Harrison were visibly irked when Chiefs attempted a fresh move to stop Nato from playing last Saturday’s game between the two rivals at the Francistown stadium.
A feud of words erupted between Butler and Gilport Lions shortly after the protest. Just before kick off time, Butler commented on the social media network, Twitter that ‘‘it would be good to see Nato tonight, let’s put football first and nonsense second, he is a major player in the Zebras squad, we need him.’’
Following Butler’s account, Gilport Lions who are fresh from losing Nato’s case frowned upon the head coach’s words and came out with guns blazing.
"It is unfortunate to see the tweet from the National Coach on the Nato â€¬issue. All we can say is that we have a right to raise any issue that we feel aggrieved on and we will follow all legal steps to pursue such issues without fear or favour,” Gilport Lions chairman Kelesitse Gilika said.
Gilport Lions’ management further added that, “what may seem as nonsense to the National Coach may not necessarily be nonsense in our books. We do not believe in breaking all the rules in pursuit of an end. Does the fact that Nato is needed by the National coach exempt him from set rules? This issue is still subject to Appeal so it is regrettable that the National Coach could make his views in the public arena so pre-maturely. We consider this an error in judgment and hope it will never be repeated.”
Although Gilport Lions’ comments were meant to shoot Butler straight in the heart, Rollers’ mentor, Mark Harrison was not amused either by Chiefs’ action and seized the opportunity to condemn the ‘way ward behavior’. He said, ‘‘I’m very disappointed by these guys (Chiefs)! Why should they be doing this? They have the time and money to come and do all this?â€¨There are a lot of people who need such money; perhaps if they had donated the money to kids in the streets, it would have made much sense. They need to be professional and this is just a waste of time.’’
The comments made by Harrison seem to mirror what many football pundits were saying regarding the amount of money Chiefs have so far paid to lodge their protests. So far the team has splashed around P20 000 to ensure that Nato’s case is thoroughly dealt with. It is however a wild goose chase for a team fighting to retain title championship to be caught in the wrong side of how best to use their finances.
Fighting for justice regarding Nato case means more money yet the team’s players remain unpaid. Dirang Moloi is a prime example of a player at logger heads with his team regarding his monthly salary. In December of last year, it is said players were each given P200 as bonuses- incentives regarded as peanuts looking at the status of the club.
Clifford Mogomotsi- the club‘s media liaison however sees things in a different light. He is of the view that it is in the best of football interest “to leave no stone unturned in the Nato case”. He believes all clubs should be treated equally in remits of the football laws.
‘‘This is not a case of revenge. We should understand that we are on course to ensure that football justice prevails. No team should be placed above the law. All the clubs are equal and we still believe we have a serious case here,’’ he said.
Nato’s case is not the first to bring conflict between the national team head coach and Chiefs. The Briton, Butler was once involved in a feud with Chiefs officials regarding another player Lesego Galenamotlhale‘s credentials as 2014-15 player of the season at the expense of Rollers midfielder Segolame Boy. The two parties were fighting fire with fire until the Botswana Football Association (BFA) intervened.
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