There is no doubt Township Rollers’ move for Jerome Ramatlhakwane came as a big jolt to the football fraternity, raising questions as to how coach Madinda Ndlovu will shoehorn everyone in, Palestine style.
But the truth of the matter is that the people in charge at Mma-Masire side decided a long time ago that despite the considerable talents of Jerome Louis and Sekhana Koko, their frontline was not dynamic enough for a club of their ambitions.
It was allegedly stated at some stage that Ndlovu was the first person to identify the issue and initially thought Kenanao Kgetholetsile had the directness and penetrative qualities to give the team a more vibrant attacking edge. In fact, there had always been a belief that ‘Flo’ would score goals for fun at Popa given his style of play and physique.
A meeting was arranged and Flo joined Popa from BMC together with Motsholetsi Sikele. However, Ndlovu and his technical team watched Flo so many times after the turn of the year and he proved unconvincing every time. BMC had sold him and Sikele for P120 000 and Ndlovu, with deficiencies in midfield and defence, decided the money was better spent elsewhere as he later sold him back to BMC.
What perhaps comes as a surprise is that Ndlovu and Township Rollers still wanted another forward, even though Segolame Boy signed from Miscellaneous SC was on their books; and it did not need forensic analysis to realise Rollers’ squad was already top-heavy with attackers but conspicuously short in defence.
Yet Rollers acted swiftly and decisively when the ever inspiring connections of Somerset Gobuiwang finally landed Jerome in their camp. Gobuiwang might be despised but he has the art of picking talent and nurturing it. He has struck up a strong rapport with some notable football agents too. And what is followed, by modern standards, is an agreement of uncommon speed that demonstrates, again, Rollers’ determination to spend their way back to the top of the sport.
Where Jerome fits in – or, rather, who drops out – is another matter entirely and it is not being unduly negative to wonder if Rollers have jumbled priorities up, given the imbalance it leaves Ndlovu, with a pick of superstars upfront but a defence that will always encourage opponents.
Rollers and Ndlovu have never been afraid to ditch players who previously considered themselves first-team supreme choices. Ordinarily, Koko’s place would have to be vulnerable. Yet Ndlovu has just given him the captaincy chiefly on the basis that he envisages him (now the most senior player at Popa) being at the battlefront every week.
Jerome Louis is firmly established as one of the coach’s favourites and maybe that means it will be Rollers stand in captain Maano Ditshupo who has to suffer the consequences. Maano could probably be forgiven for wondering where all this leaves him – and let’s not forget how it might affect Manqoba Shakes Ngwenya either.
Few would doubt Shakes has the gifts to rise to the highest levels of his profession in Botswana – and as someone with much ability and self-belief, he must be wondering how the next weeks will pan out for him.
Before anything, Ndlovu, assisted by Teenage Mpote and Zachariah Mudzadzi, must decide whether to stick to their 4-3-1-2 formation (despite its obvious lack of success so far) or switch to a more conventional system, most likely 4-3-3, that might be better suited to his evolving squad.
A front three of Kobamelo, Jerome Louis and newly recruited Ramatlhakwane would be a daunting prospect for even the most accomplished defence and perhaps this is now the point in Koko’s career when he and his coaches have to start giving more thought to him dropping into midfield.
In fact, Ndlovu was convinced it was inevitable at some stage because Koko had lost the burst of pace that made him such a whirlwind of a player when he was younger and Ndlovu would privately admit he should have been emboldened enough to do it more.
There was, however, a feeling among the coaching staff that Koko needed to learn the ropes and was not a natural. More than anything, they were concerned that Koko was not particularly good at short passes, in the way that Maano and Tsotso Ngele would give and go. They knew Koko could play the killer pass. The issue was whether he knew the right moment to look for that pass.
In the meantime, Segolame Boy has joined the club as an upgrade to Gofaone Tiro. The latter is still to return to full fitness, with Shakes Ngwenya in reserve, and there is finally the sense that Rollers have started to fix some of the midfield woes they have neglected too long.
Godfrey Ngele is another one who has frequently tempted followers to believe he can shine consistently at the highest level but has never quite done enough to remove all the lingering question marks. Ngele, when on form, can be a formidable opponent, with that long stride, direct running and skilful feet. Yet his defining moment last season came when injuries chained him before starting to miss clear cut chances. With growing injuries, Godfrey faded.
Maano, one would suspect, might be experiencing some kind of insecurities over the coming months. The same applies to Kobamelo, too. Yet that will always be the way of big clubs and at least Rollers can be certain now that they still appeal to category-A footballers. The “high profile players”, one could call them. It is just a pity for Ndlovu, perhaps, that they all occupy roughly the same positions.
Second assistant coach, Mudzadzi, however, says Jerome Louis can always be a second striker whenever JJ is deployed upfront.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.
Township Rollers is anticipated to spent around P 50 000 to expatriate their foreign based players amid ravaging corona virus threats. The club, in collaboration with the Football Union of Botswana (FUB) tested Francis Afriyie, Fabian Assagou Guy and Kamogelo Matsabu before they can head to their native countries.
The trio are awaiting the results which are all expected to come out negative, following which they will immediately board planes to their various destinations. Afriyie was a Rollers striker from Ghana.
Matsabu, regarded the darling of the club is heading back to South Africa while Guy signed by the club but has never impressed, will board a plane back to Ivory Coast.It is likely that both Matsabu and Guy will return as they are still contracted to Rollers. However, Afriyie will not return after failing Rollers litmus test.
The striker failed to break into the starting 11 of head coach Frank Nuttall for the season and it appeared that frustration got to him. And when it finally knocked him down, the striker in a rough and unexpected remonstration stormed out of the bench while a Rollers game was on.
The former Gho Maria striker penned a two year deal in January and it is rumoured that his contract was heavily incentivized, catapulting him to being one of the highest paid players at Rollers.His end of season departure will now put a serious question mark over Rollers’ recruitment policy.
He becomes the fourth foreign striker to fail the club examinations and released while on contract. Before him was, Mthokosize Msomi from South Africa, Terrence Mandawa from Tanzania and Fabian Mbowa from Ivory Coast. Msomi and Mandawa’s release were sanctioned by former coach Nikola Kavazovic. Mbowa is loaned to Police XI to create space and playing opportunity for the now departing Afriyie.
Releasing Afriyie will now mean that the club’s striking woes continue. Rollers management complained at times last season at the lack of productivity from their strikers but they hoped that striker Tumisang Orebonye and other targeted signings, aided perhaps by Edwin Moalosi who remains on the books, could fire an upturn.
However, it was never meant to be as they finished the season second behind league winners, Jwaneng Galaxy.
Black Leopards head coach, Joel Masutha, is reported to have orchestrated a move that could see mid fielder-cum-striker, Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele, being dropped by Leopards.
WeekendSport has learnt that the coach summoned the Zebras former captain to a one-on-one meeting a month ago to relay the bad news. It is reported that Masutha told the player that he is surplus to requirement and therefore he will not be selected for any game unless he opts to leave.
Reports further state that Tsotso was not encouraged to fight for his position but instead was told that there are better players to be tasked with scoring responsibilities and helping the club to dodge the dreaded relegation axe.Ngele therefore is waiting for his contract to expire before plotting his next move. He is said to be torn between playing for one more year in South Africa and coming to Botswana to play for high paying Township Rollers.
The Rollers decision will once again hinge on his private business which he would love to monitor closely. He owns a sports clothing label where he already signed a two year deal with Notwane FC.Ngele’s career at Leopards blew hot and cold. He only enjoyed his stay when his former coach Calvin Johnson was at the helm.
He played in crucial matches and his stunning free kick against log leaders Kaizer Chiefs is still remembered by his followers.However, there have been many other factors at play.It is said Ngele’s future at Thohoyandou- a location where Black Leopards is based- encountered problems of many kinds. His future is believed to have been dulled by injuries and a confidence that strangely refused to bloom.
The player is also said to have broken ranks with Leopards management where he shocked them when playing for the senior national team last year albeit claiming to be suffering from a thigh injury. Ngele had signed a two year deal, but as things stand, the left footed midfielder is heading out as his contract staggers to an end. He is believed to be earning close to R80 000 after tax deductions.
The lifestyle and living conditions at Thohoyandou are also seen as factors that further complicate Ngele’s situation hence the sudden collapse of concentration in football.Ngele is said to be represented by Tim Sukazi who still hopes that the player’s breakthrough career is worth fighting for.
When signed by high spending Mamelodi Sundowns almost 5 years ago, he was represented by Mike Makaab, also a renowned football agent in South Africa.It is growing precarious for Ngele who was chained for longer spells at Sundowns.
But when a move to Leopards was announced, there was a high expectation that the player was nearing his revolutionary season.