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Rollers, Chiefs prepare for title bid showdown

Chiefs midfielder, Dirang Moloi


Botswana Premier League (BPL) log leaders Township Rollers are not keen on adding their current squad after fine start to the season, while arch-rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs may add few changes to amend their lacklustre start to the season.

Some teams tumble during the second round of the season, like Rollers did last season. This season, Chiefs had played second fiddle to Rollers hence the club may be forced to open the cheque book in a bid to defend the league title.

The changes to the squad are unlikely to be massive however, especially for Rollers save for players who have struggled to command a regular game time, and may either be loaned out or released. Rollers may open up to the idea of loaning or selling some of its players with Extension Gunners reportedly gunning for at least three of their stars.

Rollers is wary to avoid last season’s pitfall after surrendering its league table lead to arch-rivals following the arrivals of new singing in last season’s January transfer window.

Subsequent to an impressive and undefeated first round performance, Rollers went on to sign three big names; Noah Maposa, Jerome Ramatlhakwane and Dirang Moloi. However the club’s fortunes changed as slump in form saw the Mma-Masire based outfit yield its lead to Chiefs and ultimately finishing behind rookies, Orapa United.

This season, Rollers had another perfect start to the season and by this end remains the only league side undefeated. At the beginning of the season, Rollers added marquee singings in the likes of former players- Joel Mogorosi, Mogogi Gabonamong and Kabelo Dambe. The trio has been instrumental in Rollers’ performance this season.

A cherry on top for Mark Harrison’s lads, Rollers will not be competing in the vexing Confederation of African Football competitions justifying the decision to go quiet on transfer market.

Meanwhile Chiefs on the other side will be participating in the CAF Champions League which will dent Kgatleng side’s title bid against log leader Rollers. Chiefs are occupying the 3rd spot behind Orapa United.

Chiefs had a disappointing start to the season despite adding midfield maestro Dirang Moloi again on their books and former Uniao Flamingo Santos midfielder Jackie Mothatego from Gaborone United.

However, Mike Sithole comprehend that the transfer market does not offer him much options. The Zimbabwean tactician is looking for a striker to offer him more options upfront.

Chiefs could have signed Kaunda during the pre-season, but the foreign qoata requirement meant that the lanky former Nico United goal-poacher was overlooked in favour of former Ajax Capetown starlet Makhanyesili Siwahla.

The South African lad has however failed to break into the team’s starting eleven and is now considered surplus to requirements. He may be allowed to leave during this transfer window according to sources close to the club.

Chiefs’ spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi told this publication that the club is willing to make some slight reinforcement in the team.

“We have not identified any player yet but definitely we will make some few additions to the squad,” he said.

Mogomotsi swiftly quashed rumours alleging that some players maybe released during the current transfer window. “Transfer window has just opened and it is too early to say that,” he said.

“The club has no intention of releasing any player during this window [transfer],”  

Although Mogomotsi may publicly not admit it, the Chiefs will find it difficult in to find the players who will fit their profile in the transfer market.

Magosi technical squad however will be quick to admit that days of “Galacticos” are over, with Rollers boosting the most expensive squad in the league. Chiefs had in its first round league games proved to be lacking depth as compared to its rivals.

The two rivals’ encounter in October saw the Kgatleng giants being outplayed, succumbing to a 3-1 defeat despite having taken an early lead.  

Meanwhile Rollers may loan out speedy winger Kobamelo Kebaikanye. News reaching Weekend Sport indicates that the 24 year old has requested the club to loan him in order to find game time.

It is reported that Gunners is also eying Rollers trio, Jerome Louis, Gofaone Tiro and goalkeeper Noah Maposa. The trio had struggled to command a regular place in the starting line up so far.

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Sport

BAA targets 2 medals at World Champs

28th June 2022
Letsile Tebogo

With just three weeks left before the World Athletics Championships kicks off in London, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has set a modest target for its athletes, demanding a paltry two medals.

The members of the team that will be participating in the event are currently training. They are expected to leave on July 10. The Botswana team, which was composed of young athletes, was able to secure seven medals at the recently concluded Africa Senior Championships held in Mauritius. They were placed sixth out of 44 participating nations.

According to Oabona Theetso, the Vice President of the Botswana Athletics Association, the team’s goal is to secure two medals at the World Championships. On the other hand, the under-20 team’s goal is to bag at least four medals.

Nevertheless, Theetso said the team which is currently on training camp encompasses of Isaac Makwala, Nigel Amos, Anthony Pesela, Bayapo Ndori, Letsile Tebogo, Isaac Makwala, and Thalosang Tshireletso of High jump just to mention the few. Theetso noted that the training camp was not able to produce a female athlete due to the failure of the female athletes to secure a ticket to the event.

Theetso also noted that the BNOC gave the BAA about P500 000 to help fund the team’s preparations for the event. Besides the training camp, the organization additionally received the same funding for the Oregon World Champion team.

When asked about the presence of renowned athlete and 800m world record holder, Nijel Amos, at the training camp, Theetso revealed that he has never officially communicated his intention to become an independent athlete.

When further pressed about the outcome of the meeting between Amos and the Minister – Theetso said, “We are unaware that he ever meets with Rakgare. If they met without the presence of BAA official, it will be wrong and highly regrettable,” he said.

When contacted for a comment Tlhobo Tlhasana who is Public Relations Officer at Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture confirmed to this publication that Amos met with Minister Tumiso Rakgare a few weeks after the 2012 Olympic silver medalist made known his intention to go solo.

“The minister is at liberty to meet any sport personality from different codes in his capacity as the minister. He doesn’t need the permission from BAA or let alone BNSC to have a meeting with Amos,” he noted.  Meanwhile in 2019, BAA sent a strong team of 13 athletes, with five focused on individual categories, while others were to form part of relay team.

During that time two out of five athletes who were to represent this country within individual events were relegated to spectators owing to injuries. But the injuries on the two athletes had left one question on the lips of many within the athletics fraternity.

The duo of Nigel Amos and Galefele Moroko, who were undoubtedly team Botswana poster kids, saw their dream of sailing through in the competitions halted as they were forced out of tournament owing to injuries. Botswana eventually came home empty handed after failing to secure podium finish.

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Sport

Rollers should pay the price – Zackhem

28th June 2022
NICOLAS-ZAKHEM

Botswana Football League (BFL) Chairperson Nicholas Zackem who is also a Gaborone United financier and director says Township Rollers should instead of being a hard-nut be remorseful on the Onkarabile Ratanang marathon case.

In an interview with WeekendSport this week, Zackhem says he has always had a good relationship with his Township Rollers counterpart, Jagdish Shah. However things took a nasty turn early this year when it surfaced that their left back Onkarabile Ratanang was not registered accordingly.

Again, the Rollers home game against GU played in February which resulted in a near stampede left him agitated such that Rollers should learn a lesson. “So with all these I think they should be remorseful and stop being militant,” he said.

His contention is, “this is recurring and with only one team – Rollers. Remember what happened in 2014 when BDF X1 was leading the log and they were docked points which in turn allowed Rollers to win.”  In 2016 there was Ofentse Nato (Rollers player) saga where he was also not duly registered and now we are here again with Ratanang. This should be corrected to better our football.”

The Ratanang case has been dragging for months now and has created unnecessary chaos in local football. Of late the football league awards ceremony had to be postponed with those in the know saying it is because of the matter. A statement from BFL however says the postponement is a result of logistical challenges.

The BFL boss says he does not care what should happen to Rollers, which is arguably the most followed football team in the land. “Even if the relevant structure could fine the P100k or relegate or even be docked points I don’t care but I want them to respect football. My worry is they should be disciplined because they committed a heartfelt mistake.”

Some football commentators say there is high possibility of Rollers be axed from the elite league because they are facing a misconduct charge which means they can only plea for a lighter sentence like points docking.

When asked about reports of some players from other teams not registered accordingly just like Ratanang, Zackhem said it will be up to the relevant structures to decide because as far as he is concerned, the Rollers case is the only one that has been reported at Botswana Football Association (BFA).

ZAC ON BRIBING REFEREES

The 2021/22 football season was exciting but here and there it was blotted by allegations which were pointed at Zackhem himself as the league Chair of buying referees. He has vehemently dismissed those reports and rumours saying the current GU arsenal does not need any favors.

“We invested heavily on this team and if you have invested surely you are poised to win everything on offer. Look at the players that I have do you think I would need referees to win matches? Most of the players have also been called to the national team and that alone proves their mettle. I don’t remember the last time GU was awarded a penalty this season, it has been a team work and those referee talk is baseless.”

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Sport

My dream is to coach at national level – Mpatane

28th June 2022
ELEVEN-ANGELS-HEAD-COACH: SEEMO-MPATANE

“I am a dreamer and perseverance is my name because after writing my Cambridge examinations a few years ago, I grouped young footballers in Francistown and started a youthful unregistered football team with them.

It was a difficult thing to do because the players were students and parents were not letting some of them to play football as they believed it might negatively affect their studies and some of the big clubs in the elite league will come and take my players.”

This is how Seemo ‘Sixteen’ Mpatane, a coach and founder of Eleven Angels football club which gained promotion to the elite league last weekend describe himself and the journey thus far. Barely two weeks ago, Mochudi Center chiefs failed to pluck Angels’ wings when they hosted them at Riverplate grounds during the first leg of the Botswana Football league promotional playoffs but this past Saturday Angels soared to a 5 – 0 win over them to reach the promised land.

The win meant Lekgamu la Bananyana (youthful side) as they affectionately known will now make a debut appearance at the apex of local league football. For a match characterized by a long stoppage time following clashes between Angels and Chiefs supporters, it was Angels who showed more battle to convincingly beat Chiefs and attain promotion.

Nevertheless, Mpatane said, “I continued to coach my team even when I was still studying at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) in Francistown and it was a difficult journey because I had some school projects to do and I will divert my monthly allowance to some of my players; to feed them, provide transportation for them and also to buy them soccer boots,” he stated.

In 2013, he says, he decided to register the team officially with Botswana Football Association (BFA) in order to protect the players from other teams and to make income out of the team.
He further said Lekgamu La Bananyana started in Third Division league when they got position one and gained automatic promotion to Second Division league although it was only their first season to play there.

“We struggled at Second Division because I had inexperienced youthful players and had limited resources like transportation, soccer boots and most of our players were sitting for their examinations, but we managed to avoid relegation as we finished in position four,” he alluded.

In 2017/18 season, he said the team won the Second Division League and qualified for the Debswana First Division North playoffs. During the playoffs, the team represented Francistown region, against other three teams from other regions, to be precise Chobe United, Maun Terrors and White Diamond from Boteti region.

In addition, the young tactician managed to produce quality players like Norman Mabaya who plays for Orapa united, Doctor David and Fortunate Thulare of Jwaneng Galaxy and Molaodi Tlhalefang of Security Systems who went and made their caps at the senior national team.

“I achieved one of my dreams; that is to take my team to the elite league and I’m left with one that is coaching at national level and I think after getting my license I will be ready to lead under 17, 20, 23 and even the national team cause it just requires humility, love, perseverance and commitment, but right I can offer my services cause football is in the heart,” he said.

Mpatane revealed his intention is to see more of his players participating at national level and overseas, as this week Zebras interim coach Mogomotsi Mpote called the 18-year-old Monty Enosa to be part of Zebras team which will compete for COSAFA tournament that is set to kick off next month.

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