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Nato’s transfer timeline

The move of Zebras hard tackling midfielder, Ofentse Nato from his former Indian based club Atletico De Kolkata to high paying Township Rollers, has left behind a litany of questions albeit with no answers. Procedures taken to register the player by the close of the transfer window on January 31st are still in question.

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

Background information shows that on Monday 1st of February, when the Botswana Premier League issued a press release to confirm completed transfers of players, Ofentse Nato’s was not appearing. This is the case because Botswana Football Association (BFA), as 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 January 31st.

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 old player’s transfer emanate from the license form to the certificates of fitness. As per procedure, this publication has learnt that once the license is granted by the 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.

On it, a date of 8th February 2016 was captured regarding his fitness. The date 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.

When reached for clarity BFA Chief Executive Officer, Kitso Kemoeng, distanced himself from what he referred to as a ‘difficult issue’ to deal with. WeekendSport wanted to know the date at which Nato‘s international transfer certificate(ITC) reached the association, but the low-lying Kemoeng could only say, “I do not want to comment on issues ongoing before tribunals. Let them deal with it first then we shall assist you accordingly.’’

However, information gleaned from various documents seen by this publication reveal that 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. Strangely, all these were completed after the license was issued.

Furthermore, 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, does not bear the stamp of Athletico De Kolkata. 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 is it crystal clear that on the 2nd of February 2016, the towering midfielder signed a contract with Popa, evidence suggests that the player through his agent was negotiating with former local club, Gaborone United as late as 5th February 2016.

Nato first became the subject of discussion after Township Rollers pushed arch rivals Mochudi Center Chiefs to the brink of elimination in the Top 8 championship two weeks ago at the Francistown sports complex. The player played part of the match, prompting Chiefs to file a protest. However, Magosi were left counting their losses after it was discovered that they failed to follow procedure in lodging the protest. The same player was part of their game against Gilport Lions who too have complained legally regarding the status of the player who has endeared himself to Popa faithfuls. His earnings are not less than P25 000 at The Blues.

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

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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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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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