Confusion and delight engulfed the Township Rollers family in equal measure, when the local football giants signed veteran defender Tshepo ‘Talk-Talk’ Motlhabankwe on a two year deal early this week.
Mapalastina opted for the ‘mafia’ way of acquiring the services of the former national team player, snatching him from rivals, Mochudi Center Chiefs. Magosi were certain that the prodigal son would return home after they chased him away last season for ‘lack of discipline’. Rollers eleventh hour bid changed everything, leaving Chiefs with bruises and feeling ‘betrayed’ and that he was ‘settling scores from the previous season.
Although some are happy with the arrival of ‘Talkie’ at Rollers, due to his experience which might come in handy for CAF competitions, some have a different view. But with a two-year contract offered to the former Extension Gunners man, it is pretty clear that the team will need him for only a short period of time. At 34, Rollers is aware that he may become more of a liability than an asset in the near future.
The main question that is on every Popa fan’s lips is whether the defender will break into the first team and if so, who will be relegated to the bench? So far, the team has conceded nine goals making them the least conceded team in the league with two central defenders, Oscar Ncenga and Leutwetse Tshireletso in the heart of defense. In their absence, Simisane Mathumo and Bogosi Kaekwe have been roped in, and they did not disappoint by maintaining the discipline at the back.
So was the signing necessary? Though Motlhabankwe could play as a wing back, it appears that the 34 year old will be more useful in the central defense since pace is compromised owing to age meaning that he cannot be effective at right back like he was some years back.
For the same reason, Coach Daniel Nare opted to use him in central defence at BMC. But despite a good record by Rollers defense, their backline has been an encouraging one for the opponents, and this signing could be an imperative one for the defending champions’ wishes of continuing last season’s momentum.
Tshireletso appears to be the possible victim to make way for the new signing if at all Madinda Ndlovu will consider using him in central defence. ‘Luu’ as affectionately known by Rollers fans, has been, in some instances, caught wanting and being possibly the weakest link in the heart of Rollers’ defense as compared to his partner Ncenga. In his first half of the season at BMC where he was bestowed with the arm band, the Talk-talk marshaled the defense has letting in only 15 goals which is not a bad record.
It is no secret that Coach Ndlovu is a strong admirer of the defender after mentoring him at Chiefs where they won back-to-back league titles and he is very willing to accommodate him in his 4-3-1-2 formation beginning of the second round.
This has created a perception that the defender could again be used as a wing back since the two central defenders have performed satisfactorily. This has created insecurity for the likes of Otlaantshekela Mooketsi who has not quite lived up to his billing ever since his much hyped arrival from BDF XI.
Rollers were cagey with details about the names of players they want but it is clear that the Mma-Masire based club want more players to strengthen their squad. Rollers is busy behind the scenes recruiting players as they want depth in their squad, to run riot in the three competitions they are taking part in, and Motlhabankwe’s inclusion is something close to catching a big fish. He has been with the national team for over a decade and he is one of the few players that played in all the three games at AFCON 2012 hence his experience cannot be under emphasised.
However, his addition means that the young defenders like Kaekwe, Thato Bolweleng and the young Kgosietsile Shadrack, will never have game time. In other transfer news, Jwaneng Galaxy has roped in former BMC striker Kenanao Kgetholetsile, while Sageby Sandaka is on the verge of concluding a deal with Nico United. William Kupera is also close to finalising terms with Motlakase Power Dynamos while Elvis Meleka has joined BMC.
Ecco City Greens is on the verge of total collapse as Nico are reported to be after the services of their striker Thatayaone ‘Pele’ Gaokgorwe while Orapa United are in talks with their young defender Omaatla Kebatho. Orapa United are also expected to sign former Notwane striker, Saukani Zulu.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.
The first Mascom Charity Cup spectacular has come and gone. The football event played at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium saw four football clubs playing one-day tourney with various charity centres being beneficiaries of the gate takings.
While the attendance was not at the expected level, it is said that the sponsor has made a killing with close to P500 000 made from voting lines. Football followers were asked to vote for teams of their choice, and top four clubs were eligible to play. A single sms voting line cost P 1.50.
Gaborone United became the most voted team with 62 984 votes followed by Security Systems with 51 027. On the third spot was BDF XI with 48 596 votes while Orapa United came forth with 44 401. Shockingly, Township Rollers did not make it after gathering a total of 30 637 votes, with BR Highlanders ahead of them having seen 44 204 votes to their name.
It is said, however that, the initiative live to expectation as clubs together with the sponsor have managed to assist charities of their choices. Mascom is believed to be happy for identifying beneficiaries and getting value for their money.
The mobile network company is still the longest standing partners of local football, having first tasted waters in 2005. The company now powers the Top 8 competition and said to have renewed the dame sponsorship at a value not exceeding 18 million. The Mascom Charity Cup was not the first to be hosted by a mobile network company.
In 2018, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) hosted a similar event in which followers had to vote. The four participating teams were Mochudi Center Chiefs, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Township Rollers. GU were the eventual winners.
It is however not clear if the tournament will continue in the next football calendar, but what goes down into the history books is that Teenage Mpote and Orapa United were the first to win it. In previous years, there have been an off season tournament whose aim was meant for charity purposes. The tourney was called Kabelano Charity Cup and was usually played by four big teams (Rollers, Notwane, GU and Chiefs) without taking the voting routes. It was last hosted in 2015 and had Barclays as the sponsors.
Yet another thrilling showdown is expected between the country’s hottest strikers, Thabang Sesinyi of Jwaneng Galaxy and Thataoyaone Kgamanyane of Gaborone United, as the duo are eyeing for the 2021/2022 Golden boot.
With only four Botswana Premier League (BPL) games left, the race for the honours is rolling towards a thrilling climax, but for two individuals there is a race for an accolade of their own taking place that could easily go down to the final minutes of the season. Leading the pack with 19 goals is Jwaneng Galaxy talisman, Sesinyi who is one goal apart from Kgamanyane who has netted 18 goals thus far.
Both players have their eye on the golden boot, hoping that their respective teams have fixtures to put them in with a realistic chance of catching up, or leaving the other behind. The Money Machine is currently at the summit of the BPL log with 61 points while the mining giant, Galaxy are trailing on the third place with 49 points, having played 24 games thus far.
Both teams (GU and Galaxy) are expected to face each other towards the end of the season, as the initial fixture was postponed due to Galaxy’s involvement in CAF championship group stages. With 19 goals chalked up for the season so far, Sesinyi is just one goal away from Kgamanyane who led the race for the better part of the campaign. Sesinyi who is on freakish scoring form has scored four goals in his last two games; a hat trick against Prisons XI and a goal against Sua Flamingoes in the midweek fixture.
But there is no doubt that Sesinyi is no longer playing to carry his team, Galaxy, as realistically there is a slim chance for them to clinch the 2021/2022 season, but he is eyeing the Golden Boot Award when the league falls off.
Kgamanyane has begun the season in tremendous form; scoring every time he is given a chance, while Sesinyi, on the other hand, reached the peak of his form in the second round of the season; scoring both in the domestic league and also on the CAF Champions’ league group stage. He featured on team of the week on February.
Furthermore, the Money Machine attacker showed some growth as his conversion rate has been on a rising graph in the games he has so far played. Although Kgamanyane’s goal scoring prowess has been there for everyone to see, the player has been hampered by injuries. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the duo.
Meanwhile, BPL this week announced that they will hold the 2021/2022 awards. The league has since added seven new categories to take the total number of categories to 16. Among some new categories are the Defender of the Season and Midfielder of the Season awards. There are also two more awards for the administrators, as the league has included Team Manager of the Season and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Season awards.
The best performing players in this campaign will be included in the Premier League Best XI. Nevertheless, match day officials have also been recognised with the introduction of two more categories in the young Referee of the Season and the Female Referee of the Season. Furthermore, BFL CEO Solomon Ramochotlhwane indicated that the awards will be held on the 25 June 2022, just after the 2021-2022 season comes to an end.