The Botswana senior boxing national team has dominated the Lesotho national team, demonstrating it has twice the obstinacy and twice the proficiency over the mountain kingdom’s pugilists in an International friendly ahead of the All Africa Championships to be held in Congo Brazzaville in September.
Weighing in at 52 kilograms, Mahommed Otukile who is one of two boxers going to represent Botswana at the Samoa Youth Games and whose fitness and big arena bout readiness has been castigated by DTCB Boxing Club head coach and former Botswana national team Head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi overwhelmed Lesotho’s Nkululeko Suntele in the first round, proceeding to engage in a bruising up-tempo close quarter’s slugfest to clinch a 3-0 unanimous decision victory.
Lean-bodied, youthful charger Thabiso Mpolokeng succumbed to Lesotho’s stealthy Moroke ‘Rocket’ Mokhotho, a predatory aggressor commanding the advantage of age and experience who despite lacking the height and reach benefit came gunning for victory and could explode in the offensive, in the nick of time to unsettle the spirit and psyche of the floating and bobbing younger Mpolokeng, in due course bagging the 3-0 unanimous decision victory at 52 kilograms.
Kefentse Molalapata; a Southpaw stance prize fighter weighing in at 56 kilograms did not budge, outclassing Khauhelo Mothunyane with no cause to display and employ any footwork effort. The stout bodied prize fighter with the body build of an absolute boxer was however defeated by the relentlessly charging and offensive Mountaineer in a 2-1 split decision prompting uproar of fight fans at ringside.
In an electrifying 60 kilogram bout between Lesotho’s Qhobosheane ‘Mashea’ Motlerepe and one of the country’s most exciting prospects and top-tier pound-for-pound contenders, Kabelo Steven Bagwasi ruled over Motlerepe to clinch a 3-0 unanimous decision victory.
The younger of the Bagwasi brothers, who is an unrelenting brutal body puncher, who unlocks the locked exhibited outstanding ring generalship stalking and methodically ripping apart the Mountaineer’s defense in a ruthless point scoring crusade.
The charging dynamo with cat-like reflexes subsequently ascertained his class as an upper league contender who superseded Motlerepe’s notable skill. The notably experienced Lesotho man who was composed and guarded but firm in defeat was somewhat outshined by an undoubtedly grander boxer.
The older of the Bagwasi brothers Kagiso Bagwasi, an old hand in national squad boxing circles weighing in at 64 kilograms got involved in a literally toe-to-toe messy and mind-numbing all -south paw contest with Lesotho’s Tshepo Leqotho who fought with an exaggerated defensive stance.
Another boxing old hand Mmusi Tswiige, a 69 kilogram southpaw annihilated Bokang Khoai; a ripped and barrel-chested Lesotho Defence Force soldier with the body build and physical makings of a fiery prize fighter. Tswiige routed the well-built LDF mountaineer who retreated from the incoming gush of heat by continuously orbiting around the ring and a continuous holding which earned him a point deduction.
The Botswana boxing team performed comparatively well over the Lesotho winning six out of nine bouts five of the fights by unanimous decision. The Botswana boxers’ noticeable trend of outright outclassing of their seemingly ageing Basotho opponents in the first round could also be indicative of strength and technical progression of the Botswana boxing team.
Lesotho coach Lehlohonolo Lebotsa expressed satisfaction with the condition of his team signaling his intention to continue physically molding his team for the looming All Africa Championships. Lebotsa promised to take Nkululeko Suntele, the experienced Qhobosheane ‘Mashea’ Motlerepe who both lost to Botswana boxers as well as Thabo Molibeli who won against Botswana’s Tefo Rammupudu, Moroke ‘Rocket’ Mokhotho who beat Kefentse Molalapata.
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.
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.”
“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.