Township Rollers is once again team of the moment in the current transfer window, their obsession with singing superstars is unmatched, just seven months ago they signed several others. They are not letting down again this time, but are all the signings necessary, obviously they cannot field all the players. A lot of young talent is made to rot on the bench with fans denied the opportunity to witness their skill and the new talent.
It was not surprising at last weekend’s Kabelano spectacular when fans, including those of Rollers kept asking about the lanky jersey number 4 attacking midfielder who mesmerised the crowd with his touches. What they didn’t know was that “Jersey number 4”’s name is Letumile “Ramadan” Molebatsi and that he has been with Mapalastina for the whole of last season after moving from Notwane.
Coach Mark Harrison should now and then introduce a whole new team as he did at the Kabelano finals, just so that the hidden names come to the fore!
Molebatsi is one of the few players at the Rollers camp who have had little to no game time, but as testimony from last weekend would have it-he is quite talented. What of the others who are yet to be fielded, one would wonder.
Rollers has stockpiled so many players they probably don’t know where to put them any longer. The problem now is that the already established players will always get fielded, of course. Surely they signed all the players based on their skill and talent. They should consider using their tried and tested players for marketing activities and give the others a chance, that way it’s a win-win for all.
So far Township has acquired former Supersport United captain, Mogogi “Manchester” Gabonamong and Galabgwe “Gululu” Moyana from rivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs. As if that was not enough, they also went on and signed ex Sankoyo Bush Bucks captain and defender Modiredi “Zokora” Matengu together with the Briton striker Carl Finighan to reinforce the team ahead of the new season.
Meanwhile the team is expected to finalise the negotiations with goal minder Kabelo Dambe, while they already have three goalkeepers, also should Joel “Fire” Mogorosi fail to find a team in South Africa he is expected to rejoin them too.
The arrival of Gabonamong will automatically mean Lawrence “Tico” Majawa will face some uncertainty in his play time, despite his impressive showing ever-since his arrival at the club. Majawa was able to give popa shape and protect their always wanting backline, he has proven to be one of the disciplined anchor men in the league.
Nevertheless, the Malawian international is reported to be on the want list of Gaborone United since he is uncertain about his future with Popa. The same thing is expected in the midfield especially in the wings.
Motsholetsi “Viva” Sikele’s Kabelano hat trick was a hint to the new coach but judging by the available options in the position he may just fall out of favour. The Lobatse born player together with Kobamelo “Swere” Kebaikanye have every reason to be insecure because of the dynamics at the camp.
The arrival of the Masunga born Moyana and the prospects of Lotlhakane born Mogorosi together with the silky captain Sekhana “Chicken” Koko is likely to leave them disadvantaged because the management will want them to play as they command huge salaries, so they will have to match their billing by playing.
As for the young talents of Sikele, Kebaikanye, Tapiwa “Navara” Gadibolae and Gofaone “BDF” Tiro who is expected to hand off jersey 17 to Moyana, they will end up as wasted talent the country could benefit enormously from.
The other disaster looming in the goalkeeping department would be Dambe joining the camp next season. Already there is Noah “Top-dog” Maposa, Mwampole Masule and Keagile “Skhenza” Kgosipula. The arrival of the Tutume goalkeeper will in paper mean Kgosipula is out while the battle is expected to intensify with the remaining trio.
Kgosipula has been in the national set-up and now is the perfect time for him to play in the elite league. The only solution will be for him to go on loan, but the problem would be if he loaned to a first division team. The likes of Simisane “Inspector” Mathumo, Otlantshekela “Ntsoni” Mooketsi, Thato “Yellow” Bolweleng and Kaone van-Der Westhuizen are also likely to have a tough time securing fist team berth.
Michel Pillar is another victim in waiting, but the team should at least loan these young players to teams where they can have game time rather than leaving them fallow, and eventually to fade due to lack of game time.
However the ball is in Harrison’s court to juggle, maybe he will be able to alternate the players consecutively and still reap positive results like he did over the weekend.
Mapalastina lost the league last season simply because of having too many players. The players were not easily be managed and they failed to catch on to Madinda Ndlovu’s system. In the end there were some misunderstandings within the team with players like Kebaikanye demanding “new and better contract” because the new acquisitions were paid a lot compared to them. A repeat could be in the offing, and the team could eventually be divided.
Meanwhile, the team begins their campaign next weekend against BDF XI at the national stadium at 8PM.
The 2021-22 football season has finally arrived. It does not come at a better time than this one after two years of no action. With the tune changing around football circles, a game between Township Rollers and Extension Gunners will never go unnoticed in the calendar of Botswana football.
The two teams, which enjoy the largest following in Botswana, are billed to headline the start of the season. The fixture, however, comes after almost two years without playing football, and it is still unknown if they still carry the same significance and meaning in the future of Botswana football. With many followers ready to quench their football thirst, all eyes, however, will be on rather what happens than who wins the match.
Forget about the comparison that continuously stirs followers` minds about which player is better than the other. While Rollers speedy winger Edwin Moalosi and Extension Gunner’s pacey recruit, Lesego Lubinda, are likely to determine the game’s outcome, the instrumental men happen to be in the midst of the park. The two teams are about to embark on a story where Rollers have already been labelled as potential league champions because of their massive recruitment. At the same time, Gunners are relegation candidates following a lacklustre performance in the transfer market.
The Peleng outfit started preparation very late, with speculations of an absent chairman not inspiring confidence. The question is whether the fixture between the two sides is as prominent as it used to be? The fixture had the duo of former Rollers man Lawrence Majawa and Captain Maano Ditshupo ruling the midfield whenever Kenny Pilatwe and Lesego Molemogi faced them. Yet, there is striking mutual respect between them and a similarity that, for all the focus on goalscorers, may make them the central actors in the drama expected to unfold next weekend at the National Stadium.
Many new faces have come out. Rollers still have Ditshupo, Segolame Boy and Lemponye Tshireletso, while Gunners will enter the field with recruits but have veteran player Dirang Moloi in their mix. These are the players who used to face each other in the heart of midfield, the men entrusted with bringing an identity to their teams, whose job it is not just to play better; and make others play well.
Rollers Captain Maano Ditshupo is likely to continue his dominance to bring out the team’s ideologue — bright, opinionated and analytical, the man; former Rollers head coach Nicola Kavazovic once said of him: “I cannot imagine Popa without him.” On the other side, Gunners’ Moloi is the man who will do the bidding on the pitch for Gunners – intelligent, communicative, quietly authoritative, bringing calm to a team that plays at breakneck speed.
Both groups of midfielders from these teams are undoubtedly natural talents: insightful and passionate about the game, awe at the passion it provokes and assured how it can be played. They are teammates and former fellow travellers for the Zebras. During the past season, Rollers coaches said Segolame Boy, another instrumental midfielder, was his best player of the campaign. And Gunners coaches, on the other hand, have merely avoided rotations on, but when big games come, it is Moloi he seeks to protect first.
For Maano and Rollers, it is a matter of beginning a new formula in a new revolution in his role. As he embraced it, he had not failed it. Moloi might seem fatigued, but his dangerous moves on the last third of Rollers might still haunt the Gaborone West giants. Boy will be key in orchestrating final passes to the top man, but even if he is not there, Lemponye Tshireletso can equally put up with the role. The question then is whose role will prosper.
Botswana Football League (BFL) has successfully secured a P4 million grant from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) in a move aimed at kicking start the elite league by next week. As early as last week, BFL new board started knocking on the doors of BNSC, applying for a P4 million grant as the struggle to bring football from the edges of death continues.
Sources who spoke to this publication indicate that the newly assembled board of the league, led by Nicolas Zakhem, has managed to convince the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to play a pivotal role in nurturing and cultivating football in financial terms. However, there is an expected backlash from BNSC as other sporting codes would want the same treatment in the future.
It is reported that BFL is not expected to pay back the money as it comes as a grant. The BFL has also successfully lobbied Botswana Football Association (BFA) to source a loan of equal amount from FIFA. The thinking inside the BFL board is that FIFA loan must be repaid with the grant from the BNSC to avoid running a company with debts just from the beginning.
The BFL board met on Wednesday to ask for P1 million advancement from BFA to put in place logistics surrounding the return of the league. It is further reported that the money will be paid as soon as available sponsors transact their part to the BFL. The anticipation finally is enormous after the board approved fixtures to kick start the league by the 29th of October, a few days after all players take their jab.
According to the Sport Ministry and other stakeholders, part of the impetus for vaccinating players is that sport events are quick spreaders; hence players could unknowingly spread the virus to other people. However, observers now believe that the country has gone one step further combating the virus through vaccination. Testing is no longer a major problem. Zakhem, the chairman of BFL, explained that it was necessary to delay the commencement of the league until all players were vaccinated and when all stakeholders were on the same page with developments surrounding football.
“You will see that it was wise to wait a bit to bring everyone on board; all players need to be vaccinated, even supporters have to come back to make a perfect advertisement for football in the eyes of the sponsors,” said Zakhem. The domestic league was halted in April 2019, and a decision was taken to crown the team that occupied first place, Jwaneng Galaxy.
Furthermore, three teams lying at the bottom of the table were relegated, and clubs in pole positions from Debswana First Division North and South saw themselves gaining promotion to the elite league. By all accounts, the association felt it was a controversial option to undertake but also fairer for the sake of progress.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) constitution appears to be under heavy scrutiny as Tebogo Sebego, the president of Notwane Sporting club, questions its authenticity, with strong indications that several clauses were removed and others added without the input of the General Assembly.
Sebego, who vied for the BFA presidency in October 2020, feels Notwane is a bonafide member of BFA and has been participating in the past three BFA assemblies but cannot be part of the mess that the club and others did not create. On 13th September 2021, Notwane forwarded a complaint letter to the football association’s chief executive officer (CEO), challenging how two constitutions were amended.
The club says a constitution dated 25th June 2021 and the other bearing a stamp of 10th December 2020 were amended under fraudulent circumstances and want an explanation on how it transpired. “We have recently received a constitution dated 25th June 2021 stamped by the registrar of societies. The said constitution carries some changes that were never discussed and voted upon at the BFA general assembly.
Of particular interest, we have noted that the following new amendments, Article 33 of the 2016 constitution, is replaced by article 30. The procedure has been reduced, but the principles remain the same. The relevance of this is to restate the constitutional culture and mandatory powers of the General Assembly as the sole body responsible for constitutional amendments,” part of the letter seen by this publication reads.
Article 33 that Sebego complains of reads thus, “The general assembly is responsible for amending the constitution and the standing orders of the general assembly.” Furthermore, Notwane argues that another article (22.1) of the 2021 constitution then wipes off the presence of 16 delegates from the Premier League clubs and eight representatives from the first division together with their voting rights.
The club believes that while the autonomy of the Botswana Football League (BFL) was approved in the 2020 General Assembly, the assembly never discussed, voted or approved the removal of delegates from the General Assembly. The team believes that the amendments are therefore unlawful for lack of authority from the General Assembly. This is the case because it has a significant impact on the landscape of the structure of the General Assembly, Notwane argues.
Moreover, Notwane’s shock is skyrocketing, especially when raising another equally screaming change in the constitution. In the letter state, the club states that article 33.4 of the 2021 constitution introduces a term limit for the president. The club speculates that the amendment seems to be carried from the 2019 version of the constitution, and whatever its genesis, the matter was never before the General Assembly.
“It is only the General Assembly that has powers, through the right constitutional channels to introduce a limitation on the term of the president and further to define the limitation based on the reasons presented to it,” the argument goes on. The old constitution was limited to at most two terms, but it seems the president can now enjoy the third term.
Sebego and Notwane argue that they have raised these articles to demonstrate that the constitution was amended without following due process in an unconstitutional, unlawful and somewhat fraudulent manner. They say this 2021 constitution and that of the 2019 version are, in their view, unlawful documents and should be reversed without delay.
The complaint letter was also copied to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) desk and the registrar of societies — an organisation that issued a stamp on the constitutions in question. Notwane, in a parting shot, wants to be furnished with minutes that allowed the constitutional changes because, to their understanding, there was none.
It has come to the attention of this publication that Notwane had given the BFA head of secretariat seven days to have replied, but nothing has come out. However, neither party was available for comment as the paper was going to print.