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Is it a two horse race again?

Mochudi Centre Chiefs has the knotty task of defending the league title against wounded Township Rollers which gave away the title to their rivals last season despite leading the log for the better part of the season. This season, Rollers will be out for revenge while Chiefs will be looking at defending their title.


While many will publicly not admit it, ever since the arrival of network giants, be MOBILE as sponsor, the league has been synonymous with the big two; Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.  The two teams are arguably the most followed in the country.

A PERENNIAL TWO HORSE RACE

Apart from Rollers and Chiefs, only Gaborone United has managed to win the Be Mobile Premiership, a feat it never managed to emulate for the past six seasons. Both Rollers and Chiefs are equal on three titles each. A league victory for one of the sides this season will see it gaining superiority and bragging rights.  


This season nothing has changed pretty much. Both Rollers and Chiefs remain real title contenders. There will be of course Gaborone United and BDF XI chasing the pack but history reveals that, the title is not theirs.
Last season Orapa United became a surprise package and was able to keep both Chiefs and Rollers at their bay in the title race. In the end, Orapa United surprisingly finished ahead of Rollers in the league standing as they completed the league as runners-up.


This season is no different. Both Rollers and Chiefs have been pretty busy in the transfer market in an effort to bolster their squads. Rollers have signed former players Mogogi Gabonamong, Kabelo Dambe and former Chiefs player Moyana as their marquee signings. Reports also indicate that Zebras captain, Joel Mogorosi may also re-join if he does not find offers in South Africa’s PSL.


Chiefs on the other hand have signed former Ajax Cape Town player Makhanyaseli Siwawhla and former Gaborone United midfielder Jackie Mothatego as probably their major signings. The Kgatleng giants also added Mpho Kgwaswane to their squad among others.


The two teams began the league title race in an impressive fashion last weekend. Chiefs debased BR Highlanders 5-0 at Molepolole Sport Complex, with their top marksman Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi appearing twice on the score sheet. Captain Pontsho Moloi, Tendai Nyamusi and debutant Mothatego also scored.


Rollers eased past BDF XI on Saturday night at the National Stadium. Segolame Boy registered a brace, while Jerome Ramatlhakwana, and Lawrence Majawa also registered a goal each in a 4-1 victory.


Chiefs have an advantageous situation as they have maintained majority of the title winning squad. They have a smaller squad and with less egos in the dressing room to manage. Coach Mike Sithole is an instrumental factor in the league race as well. He has a wealth of experience and knows the expectations that come with being at the helm of Chiefs’ hot seat.


Meanwhile Rollers have made various changes since they surrendered the title to their rivals. Mandinda Ndlovu has left, so did Dirang Moloi who was signed on short contract. Rollers have hired British tactician Mark Harrison to steer the Blues back to their glory days.


Looking at the fixture list, the big game is in two months time (October) .A Rollers-Chiefs game which could prove decisive, not so much in terms of the title race but as a timely confidence boost going forward. Everything hinges on whether Chiefs or Rollers come out on top, whether a draw favours one side or the other, whether there is a change at the top of the table or not.


Last season, Rollers title hopes were ended by the same fixture after a 1-0 defeat courtesy of Lemponye Tshireletso’s goal. Since then Rollers could not make a comeback, in fact, it was the beginning of the end of its title aspirations.

CHASING THE PACK

Apart from obvious favourites in Rollers and Chiefs, there are few sides that will make efforts to challenge the big two. Gaborone United is an obvious choice, having been the inaugural winner in 2008/09 season, The Reds feel compelled to strive for emulation of six years ago heroics. Every season GU has failed to rise to the occasion even at a point where it had signed the best players in the league.


GU has however managed to do well in cup competitions becoming the only side to win Mascom Top 8 twice. Gaborone United finished the league title in fourth position last season.


Orapa United proved to doubters last season what it’s capable of. Following smart signings. The Ostriches were able to give up on the title hopes at the last day. United went on to finish ahead of Rollers in the title race.

This season, Orapa United has not made more changes, and has brought in two more important signings in Manqoba Ngwenya and Coach Madinda Ndlovu. Ngwenya knows how to score goals while Ndlovu has tasted the feeling of winning the league. Those important qualities will be vital for Orapa United if it challenges the league.  


BDF XI will be keeping an eye on the big two as well. In 2013/14 season, the army men looked like they were on their way to lift the be Mobile league title for the first time, until their morale was dampened by deduction of six points after being found guilty of taking football matters to court. This season BDF XI still look exciting despite suffering a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Rollers in the opening game.  


Extension Gunners also look like a side which will give title chasers a run for their money. The Lobatse side had an impressive pre-season and looked like a well-polished machine. Under the tutelage of former Zebras player Pio Paul, Ezi-Mnyama project promising prospects for this season.


Dubbed the sleeping giants, Gunners has not lived up to expectations in the past seasons. Ironically at some point, the side found itself fighting to survive relegation rather trying to end at the top. Gunners will be definitely a side to watch this season.


Stubborn Nico United will also prove to be a team to watch. Majombolo rarely disappoints and have caused major upset to title ambitions of the big three. Both Rollers and Chiefs have suffered upsets at the hands of the Selebi Phikwe side.


Police XI is another side that is capable of keeping up with the big three, but it will definitely finish in the middle bracket. There is no sign that the Jungle Kings will struggle or fight clear relegation battle.


The same goes for Gilport Lions (formerly BMC). The newly acquired team has no precursors of a title winning side. If it’s anything, inability to stay in the middle of the log will see it fighting relegation.


The biggest surprise in local football last season was Sankoyo Bush Bucks with its heroics. With a squad of nonentities Ngurungu was able to produce one of the season’s exciting performances. Ngurungu turned Maun Sports Complex into their slaughterhouse and the team was able to attract big crowds week-in and week-out. Many doubts if the team will be able to achieve the feat or not.  

WHO WILL RELEGATE?

Relegation is a debacle that is more often than not unpredictable. At the beginning of last season, nobody would have imagined that all-present league side Notwane FC would have bitten the dust. The same imagination would not have been put on former league champions Ecco City Greens. BR Highlanders, Satmos, Sankoyo Bush Bucks survived the chop last season. But the odds are still stack against Satmos which survived the relegation after victory in a dramatic play-off encounter with Notwane FC at the Serowe Sports Complex.


BR Highlanders will need to do a lot to stay away from the axe. Jwaneng Galaxy will have to prove itself as well. After adopting the same model adopted by Orapa United, there is a sense of hope that Galaxy has joined the top flight football for ever.


Green Lovers will also have to do a lot to stay. It has proved difficult for new comers to survive their first stint in the top flight. The team has not added major singings to their squad yet, and reliance on the same squad which took them to elite league would not necessarily save them.


Miscellaneous bounce back not for the first time, and it seems like they are enjoying the trend of pendulum. It will take another phenomenon for them to survive, at least for another season.

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Sport

Dambe, Tsotso dump Zebras

12th April 2021

Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.

The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.

It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.

Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.

Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.

Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.

Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.

Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.

Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.

A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.

Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.

He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.

“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.

Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.

However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.

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Sport

Galaxy star wants out

12th April 2021

Lebogang Ditsile has begun to cast fresh doubts over his future as a Jwaneng Galaxy player. The hard tackling midfielder has handed the club management a transfer request amid rumours linking him with Gaborone United.

This week, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum -to either improve his contract benefits or let him go- this comes after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy has arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P3000 until a time football returns to the field.Ditsile, one of the club’ highest paid players is certainly restless and would not want to entertain a second thought over his future.

Galaxy on the other hand is feeling distraught over GU’s constant communication with the player, and are also aggrieved that the Nikholas Zakhem powered team wants to prize away their asset. Ditsile’s contract does not expire until June of 2022.

The situation is not yet explosive but it is believed to have gotten under Ditsile’s skin and it is threatening to turn ugly. Ditsile apparently is the best thing ever to happen to Galaxy and to leave them at this point will surely be a great loss that could take some time for the club to recover.

However, GU is busy making their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be determined to complete the transfer before the season begins. It is said the player wants to play football without hustles, which Galaxy cannot promise at the present moment, and the allure of GU will certainly prove too much to stay from.

The team led and directed by Zakhem is reported to have promised ‘Tally’ a mouth-watering contract should he voluntarily terminate. It is however noted that GU cannot risk buying the player who is still on a running contract.

It is believed that Ditsile recognises GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. In the event of joining GU, Ditsile would have fulfilled his dream of playing for a rich paying club.

He has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but feels that the time is right to move on. It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with last season being his best.

The fan-favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, is still held by the terms of his contract while discussions between his agent are continuing behind closed doors.

Those close to developments mention that Ditsile is yet to be shocked by the stubborn position held by the Galaxy; but the club will surely hate losing such a prized possession to their fiercest rivals.

The Galaxy management has a reputation of being tough negotiators but for Ditsile, the offer from GU is one that should be impossible to refuse.On the other hand, GU are mindful of the tactics often displayed by Botswana players.

They have a tendency of bargaining through rival clubs so as to increase salary or force the management to act swiftly.

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Sport

Panic ahead of women champions’ league

12th April 2021

The absence of women national league in the country has caused anxiety and alarm at Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat. PIC: Soccer Laduma

This is the case because the inaugural COSAFA women champions’ league is about to kick start and BFA is expected to send the name of the team that will represent the country.

As things stand, the association is caught between a rock and a hard place because they are unable to determine the deserving team. The reality facing the association is because its women nation-wide league has never been played since the first corona virus case was registered in March of 2020.

However, the association has devised a plan and a model to opt for a team that will participate in the tournament to be held between November and December of this year. The play offs are expected to commence in August.

BFA has therefore called for an expression of interest from clubs to select the most deserving team.The expression of interest, according to BFA, should cover the club’s financial viability and ability to honour its games (both home and away) without fail. According to findings, the club will need a minimum of P100 00 to play a telling role.

It is therefore highly unlikely that BFA will find a women’s team enjoying such financial freedom. In any case, the association will be forced to offer financial assistance.Township Rollers, Mexican girls and Double Action are the few teams that can possibly be selected, but a huge question mark hangs over their financial disposition.

One other thing needed through the expression of interest is the current books of accounts which will definitely show that the club has been operating. BFA is of the view that this is important because it will help in showing the financial progression of the team.

“We are very pleased with how these events were organized under very difficult circumstances,” COSAFA General Secretary, Sue Destombes said in a statement.

“We take what we learnt in Nelson Mandela Bay into our planning for 2021. We have a full calendar of tournaments at this stage. We are hopeful we will be able to stage them all, even in these most challenging times.

The highlight must be the introduction of the regional Women’s Champions League, which will be a zonal qualifier for the new CAF Women’s Champions League which is coming later this year,” she further shared.

 

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