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Rollers out to rewrite history

Manqoba Ngwenya

For Premier League log leaders, Township Rollers, it seems this season is less about the pursuit of the league title as it is for the pursuit of records. Popa are six points clear at the top of the Premier League having dropped six points from 13 games and, with all due respect to BMC FC, they are only two  wins ahead of their nearest realistic title rivals.


Even more worrying for the pack, they have already played against Centre Chiefs, BMC FC and Police XI. There may be 17 hurdles more hurdles sitting between them and the finish line but in essence, Rollers has gone through its toughest tests in the league this season, playing very impressively.


An unbeaten run in a season – which would be just the second in Botswana league history – is certainly possible. There is always the element of luck in such things and it takes avoiding those games that happen to all sides, however good, where they pepper the opposition goal area, fail to score, and concede against the run of in a counterattack.


But so too, are numerical records. Chiefs hold the record for most points gained in a top-flight season in recent times: 72 points in the 2008/9 season. But Rollers, if given the benefit of the doubt, can reach 80 points. That, obviously, would be an astonishing total but breaking Chief’s record is a definite possibility.


This is a season not just of one team of brilliant remorselessness but of a pretty weak second rank. Chiefs or BMC FC may click into some kind of form at some point but that gap can still look insurmountable if you are not a Rollers follower. The only side to have taken more points from their first 9 games is still Centre Chiefs last and this season, who were on 27 points after 11 matches, five clear of their rivals Rollers.


It would seem that teams simply do not throw away leads like this, and particularly not teams like Rollers. With Madinda Ndlovu, there is a sense that they can pretty much keep a clean sheet whenever they like. The defence has been a minor issue this season – just four clean sheets in 12 games, as opposed to 15 in 24 last season, although it is worth pointing out that 7 of those came in the final 22 games of the season, after Ndlovu lost his temper following the failure to win the Mascom Top 8 competition and vowed to go back to basics. Ultimately, they won the league.


Even if Jerome Louis’s goals dry up (and he is in remarkable form at the moment, scoring 7 from just 13 games) and even if teams work out how to shut down Segolame Boy, there are enough other options to bring more goals. Kebaikanye, Motsholetsi Sikele, Maano Ditshupo and Manqoba Ngwenya can provide a spark if required. This is also a noticeably big team: Oscar Ncenga, Lawrence Majawa, and Leutlwetse Tshireletso pose a big threat in the air; a couple of Rollers league goals this season have come from set plays.


The only aspect that can keep Rollers from breaking records will be a good run in the Champions league. If the lead is two or less points in March, who could blame Ndlovu when he begins resting players in the Premier League to keep them fresh for Africa?


But the team seems unmoved and they are eager to bolster their squad with Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Galabgwe Moyana and Elvis Meleka all lined to be lured in to Popa camp.
 

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