Following last season’s thrill in which both Kazungula Young Fighters and Tafic Sporting Club missed by the skin of teeth the playoff spot, first division north is once again anticipating a much more competitive and interesting league this season. The league will commence on the 5th of September.
For the past three seasons, first division north has claimed the bragging rights over their southern counterparts as they have managed to send two teams each season to the elite league. They want to continue the same feat this time around, more especially that the teams in that division are said to be more “serious” and ready to compete for the premiership spot, this has left the league officials in ecstasy.
In an interview with WeekendSport, First division north chairman and representative at BFA Eatametse Olopeng said they have prepared everything and are expecting to finalise the remaining logistics very soon. “We are expecting teams’ grants so that they can start to budget practically with something in their accounts, some teams have started buying their new kits and will claim their monies later.
The kits will be branded by BFA as you know it is an exorbitant process”, he said. Last season the league had to stop unexpectedly with the teams crying about financial despondency “as grants were too little to sustain them” but this time around they have managed to rectify that lapse and disburse P50 000. Referees have been also assured that their welfare will be well taken care off to curb possible disasters of match fixing.
Last season’s third placed side Kazungula will be launching the league with a tricky encounter against the relegated Francistown side Ecco City Greens in Kasane. The tourism capital based side Kazungula, which is dominated by the youthful players, will face their real litmus test against Ecco to see if their ambition of elite league promotion will materialise.
Kazungula, which last season boasted of being the only side to win a match against Miscellaneous has made their intentions clear that they want at one point to host the premier league in Kasane.
Unfortunately they will have to sweat if at all they want to make their history as they will face much competitive teams like Ecco, Tafic, Tsabotlhe from Serowe, Mahalapye Hotspurs as well as the newly promoted Sowa Flamingos. “The competition will be very tough I am impressed that most of the teams were in pre-season this shows that they are taking this season very seriously”, the chair stated.
The northern division has welcomed two teams; Real Movers from Selibe Phikwe and Sowa Township’s Flamingos. From the two teams the Sowa based side which is supported by the Ash mine has already sent warning signs that they will not be participants but competitors.
Some of the be-mobile premiership players are already linked with the team, former Extension Gunners defender Kerapetse “Mampudi” Mosimanewakgosi and Motlakase Power Dynamos striker Lapologang Motlogi are reportedly likely to sign with the team. Should the Sowa side pull a coup like what their mine brothers did, the league is likely to be more exciting and competitive.
“This league will be interesting and the newly promoted side, I believe will also compete”, Olopeng stated, referring to the Sowa side. Another advantage for the team has been that it will tap in the talent from surrounding areas like Dukwi, Mosetse, Gweta and Nata where there are no teams while there is talent.
FIRST DIVISION SOUTH
Attempts to understand the progress for the first division south from the Chairperson Samuel Keitereng did not materialise. However, according to Olopeng, the issue of Notwane and BFA over dragging football matters to court which is yet to be put to bed is the only stumbling block.
The southern side was to start the league next weekend but they are still waiting for the judgement. Pundits are however asking why the season hasn’t commenced yet, so that whichever side gains promotion finds the league in progress. Tough competition is expected among big teams like Mogoditshane Fighters, Modipane United and Black Forest that are set to light up the league.
The mega transfer of one Thatayaone Ditlhokwe from Township Rollers to South Africa’s SuperSport United has left Gaborone United (GU) desperate for the ‘purchase benefits’ and the latter has consistently phoned Rollers to pay back their share for supposedly grooming the player.
Ditlhokwe, a former GU defender, was sold to SuperSport at an estimated fee of P 2 million late last year. When the sale was negotiated, and it was agreed that GU will receive at least 15% of the sale, sources say.
This therefore means Rollers has to pay GU P 300 000.
According to reliable sources, Rollers is yet to process GU’s benefits because SuperSport United is taking long to complete the transfer fee. However, Jagdish Shah, the financer of Rollers, is said to be ready to pay GU’s dues as soon as the time is right.
In any case, it is said the two clubs are fighting a boardroom brawl. Regarded as the fiercest cross town rivals, GU was incensed to lose Ditlhokwe to Rollers in the first place. The underlying scuffle, to date, is catalysed by misplaced documents and trust that has grown seriously thin between the two clubs.
It is said that GU cannot find the contract between Rollers and SuperSport so as to officially bill their claim. Sources put it that GU had written twice to Rollers asking them to forward a copy of the said contract.
In the first instance, it is said that Rollers cooperated and did as GU requested. However, GU is said to have lost the contract and went back to Rollers for another copy. Rollers according to sources then refused to budge. There are claims that GU is now stuck in one place.
Rollers media liaison Phemperetlhe Pheto said it is difficult to talk about contracts to third parties. He however implored GU to avail the contract for them to claim their fees without doubts.
“I am disturbed to talk about contracts of players to media but bear in mind that we cannot act when GU is failing to submit what they have as a proof,” he said.
When Rollers tried to sign Argentinean born gaffer, Rudolph Zapata, three seasons ago, GU fought tooth and nail to block him from joining the ranks of their number one enemy. They delayed to release his work permits accusing him and Rollers of sinister motives.
To this date, GU is livid that Rollers nearly paralyzed their camp when they recruited striker Tumisang Orebonye, defender Jackson Lesole and the very same Ditlhokwe, to offer them lucrative contracts.
Just a year ago, the fight between the two clubs almost took a nasty turn. It started when GU wrote to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) questioning the coaching credentials of Rollers former coach, Frank Nuttall, together with his assistants, Leutwetse Tshireletso and Zachariah Mudzazi. Then, GU was seen to be shifting posts when consistently asked to rectify the situation involving their coach, Pontsho Moloi. It was found out that Moloi was not fit to coach in the elite level according to the requirements of club licensing.
But as things stand, GU will count on the words of Shah, whom many football administrators label as a ‘man of integrity.’
Ditlhokwe signed a three year deal with SuperSport last year. The 22-year-old helped Rollers to lift the Botswana Premier League trophy in the 2018/19 season and was rewarded with a national team call up.
The Botswana international played an important role for his side in the 2019 COSAFA Cup in South Africa as captain, Ditlhokwe also helped Zebras finish 2nd in the tournament losing to Zambia in the final.
The Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture Development has agreed to refurbish the dilapidated Molepolole Sports Complex.
The development consequently means premier league teams and local clubs will not be able to utilise the facility in the upcoming season.
The stadium with a carrying capacity of 6 600, was earmarked by premier league rookies Masitaoka as home-ground.
The ministry has further revealed that the stadium will need a budget of about 5 million Pula to relay the turf and renovate a water drainage system that has worn out. The contractors are expected to commence work in the not so distant future.
The pitch surface is artificial and was first installed in 2008 at FIFA’s request and the presidency of Philp Makgalemele. In 2010, it was chosen as one of two host stadiums for the COSAFA Under-20 Challenge.
“We have funds to refurbish the Molepolole Stadium for two main projects; the relaying of turf and renovation of water reticulation system. The stadium will therefore be out of bounds when contracted companies begin their works,” the Chairman of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) confirmed.
The Ministry of sport is further expected to file a communication with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development notifying them to start a monitoring exercise when the renovations begin.
The reconstruction of this stadium and others is however feared to coincide with the long intention of the government to improve sport infrastructure throughout the country.
Earlier this year, the sport ministry has also requested a budget of about P 33 million to renovate and improve the VIP lounge of Francistown Sport Complex, now known as Obed Chilume stadium.
The President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi, said the government continues to improve sporting infrastructure as part of the grassroots sport development programme. He said this in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) two years ago.
This financial year, P50 million was allocated for the construction of 10 community sport facilities or mini stadia, around the country.
“These will be basic sport facilities for youth recreation, and will consist of boundary wall, an artificial turf, soccer pitch and changing rooms with ablution facilities,” he said.
The facilities are earmarked for Tonota, Mmadinare, Bobonong, Tutume, Kasane, Goodhope, Kanye, Rakops, Tsabong and Moshupa.
Enterprising midfielder, Dirang Moloi, is in talks with premier league rookies Masitaoka Football Club about possibilities of joining as a free agent, having last played for troubled Extension Gunners last season.
Moloi, touted as the best midfielder of his generation, is said to be ready to hang his boots but not before playing for Masitaoka, the promising outfit whose administration is now the envy of other premier teams, especially the older ones.
However, it appears that there is a stumbling block as Moloi is requesting for conditions that are beyond the club’s reach. Moloi, with a substantial premier league experience, where player wages are not always guaranteed, wants to partner with the club through his side businesses to make profit.
Sources say Moloi does not desperately yearn for a monthly salary, but wants some benefits as the club makes money through other means.
Operating as a football company, Masitaoka has plenty of sponsors and it is why Moloi wants a share of the profits for each replica jersey the team sells. He also wants the club to partner with his security company to further rake in profits rather than waiting on a meagre salary that is not certain especially during turbulent periods of corona virus. This, according to sources may weigh heavily on Masitaoka’s situation that consequently will collapse the talks.
All the while, it is said Moloi will no longer be a first-choice selection but Neslon Olebile, the team’s head coach, hopes that his personality and experience will serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players.
Masitaoka have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their hunger to sign Galabgwe Moyana in the next season is rooted in part, by what he could bring away from the field.
Moloi, some reports say may join partly on probation and eventually sign to play as the season goes on, but not to inspire, as he once declared he is about to quit Botswana football.
The club sources however say that there is no option built into the deal for him to join them with non- football conditions.
Masitaoka are however desperate for Moloi’s services and will want him to bring calmness and stability to a side that has begun to dream big. The Molepolole base outfit is eyeing a spot in the finals of Orange FA Cup. Once football resumes, the club will play against Calendar Stars in the quarter finals.
Moloi has won a handful of trophies and medals during his salad days at Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers.