Harassed Maun based premier league rookies, Sankoyo Bush Bucks are reeling from internal shock, as head coach, Philani Mabhena ditched them for suspected greener pastures.
The team has been recently surrounded with much controversy, owing to their relegation chronicles. The premier league board had declared them relegated, but the Botswana Football Federation overturned that decision earlier this month.
Mabhena tendered his resignation, effective immediately just when things were starting to normalize at the club. The club management has further revealed fears that the players too could follow the coach, in pursuit of greener pastures.
“Our head coach has made it known to us that he is leaving before the season ended. Even if we could, we cannot stop him from doing what’s best for him. We also noticed during the second round of the league that we might lose some of our players when the transfer window opens,” revealed the Club’s Manager Odirile Sibanda in an interview with Weekend Sports.
Bush Bucks management failed to secure a financial sponsor and struggled throughout the league to maintain and manage the club financially. Although Sibanda could not deny reports that Mabhena and his players sometimes would go for a month or two without being paid, he refuted claims that the resignation of the coach was as a result of failed or late payments.
According to Sibanda, the coach seemed “understanding” whenever there were late payments because they would discuss the situation with him.
However, WeekendSport has learnt that there had been a sour working relationship between the head coach and the management of the team in relation to issues of management. In an interview with this publication earlier this year, Mabhena had expressed displeasure regarding the management’s failure to play its role well. He had argued that this automatically affected the morale of his players. The Club Manager had at that time contradicted Mabhena, saying he “despised the team management”.
Nonetheless, Sibanda said that management had a good working relationship with the coach, though to some degree they did not agree on some management issues. “Mabhena was not behaving like a head coach should. He had the mentality to undermine management decisions despite the fact that we were his employers,” revealed Sibanda.
Media reports have indicated that Mabhena was some time in February given a warning letter regarding his conduct. Failure to solve the disputes between the two saw him (Mabhena) being suspended from his duties two weeks ago.
Following his suspension, Mabhena was then summoned for a disciplinary hearing by the club committee in the course to address tension between the two parties. However at the hearing Mabhena according to Sibanda refused to seat or hear from the committee. Instead he caught them by surprise and produced his resignation letter leaving the committee in wonder.
Efforts to reach Mabhena hit a snag as he is reported to have gone back home to Zimbabwe. Efforts to get a copy of his resignation letter were also futile.
Sibanda could not divulge much information about Mabhena’s reasons for resigning. He however said that Mabhena had disclosed that he was unhappy with the club management.
Mabhena signed into a two year contract with Sankoyo Bush Bucks when they finally made it to the premier league from first division last year. His contract with Ngurungu mandated him to make sure that the new premier league entrants survived relegating back to first division league. His other bonus mandate was to take the team to Top 8, which he failed to achieve.
Sibanda explained that the team was pleased with his technical performance and they had intentions to propose for another one year extension of the contract.
“We are very delighted that he had managed to save us from relegation and with these we thought there was a future with him. We are really saddened by his departure as it was not according to our wish.”
The club expressed that they were willing to take Mabhena back should he withdraw his decision to resign. Sibanda added that issues of the working relationship could be solved.
Meanwhile the club has confirmed their intention to appoint Assistant Coach Gadimang Tiiso to the head coach position. Sibanda explained that they are on the process to acquire required qualifications by BFA for Tiiso which has only been a block in his coaching career.
Tiiso is the man who upgraded Bush Bucks from first division to premier league but could not continue with the team as its head coach due to him not having proper qualifications as required by BFA.
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.