Draw Master Sergio
On the 7th of January Sergio Daniel Moniz Traquill sat on the stands with the team’s new performance specialist Eduardo Lazaro Ramon Leiva. He was not happy with the team’s sluggish showing. It was clear to see he was frustrated with his soon to be players’ lack of urgency as they labored to a 1 – 0 win over strugglers Prisons XI. Expectations were high at Township Rollers, a foreign coach had landed but there were skeptics who read danger in his nomadic resume.
The next game arrived quickly like a flash, and Sergio Daniel Moniz Traquill sat on the bench and Township Rollers was held to a 2 all draw by the resurgent Sua Flamingoes which is now under the guidance of former Rollers gaffer Nikola Kavazovic.
Just before he first tasted league victory against the newly promoted side, Holy Ghost on the 4th February, he played three draws against Security Systems (1-1), Eleven Angels (1-1) and Sua Flamingoes (2-2). As if it was not enough, Rollers also played to 1-1 draw with a high flying Orapa United a fortnight ago before coming from a goal down to salvage a draw against Holy Ghost this past week (Wednesday). The results are not a good reading for Rollers fans who have seen this coach try every trick in the book and apply vim and vigor – albeit without success.
In the six games that he sat on the dugout he has managed five draws and one win. The Portuguese tactician has shrugged off suggestions that he is under pressure and his sacking might be imminent. The 42-year-old has endured a less exciting start to his tenure at Rollers. Based on the history of the club, Sergio is walking a tightrope.
This continued run of draws has raised speculation around the future of the Portuguese gaffer with some fans now challenging his credentials and calling for his sacking. “I am a professional coach. I am not afraid of being sacked,” he said in post-match interview after a 1-1 draw with rookies Eleven Angels.
From the possible 18 points, the Portuguese tactician has managed a mere 8 points with five draws and one win from six games he sat on the bench for Mapalastina. The conclusion of many is that Sergio could be forced to walk the plank very soon if these string of draws continue.
Meanwhile, his predecessor, Thabo Mahala Motang was sacked by Rollers has a better win percentage in his first six games. The now Extension Gunners coach (Motang) was appointed as the head coach in August last year, and he was in charge for just four months. According to official statistics Motang was in charge for nine games of which he collected 18 points from the possible 27 points, of which he won five, drew three and suffered one defeat at the hands of Molepolole side, Masitaoka in November.
Looking at the number of points he has collected despite mounting pressure which comes with the job, one would say he did relatively well because he left Mapalastina on spot number four level on points with Orapa United on 18 points with only the goal difference separating the sides. Others are of the view that it was too early to release Motang.
Asked to comment on the Rollers situation, local football analyst Jimmy George believes Rollers management has something against local coaches. They are not giving them the right platform, to develop and transform the team as they are not patient enough with them.
“The last local coach who had success with Rollers was coach Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote who went on to win the league and when Nicola Kavazovic arrived – he was shown door after it was alleged he had a fall-out with Serbian coach,” he emphasized.
“Under Kavazovic, the team was playing good football as it was evident through their historic qualification for the CAF Champion league group stages in 2018.”
According to George, Rollers philosophy towards the local coaches has stalled their development as clubs like Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, and Gaborone United have since overtaken them. He reckons it will take a few years to reassemble a formidable side to compete for honors.
He pointed out that, Mapalastina took an irrational decision to fire Thabo ‘Mahala’ Motang as it was still early in the season for him to be relieved from his duties. George said instead they should have let him finish the 2022/2023 premier league season then do the evaluation.
“Rollers should reassemble a new team that will compete for the next coming years. For now it shows the league glory cannot be achieved. They should rebuild and they could have done that with Thabo Motang. They just need to give themselves a two years rebuild process,” he reasoned.
He further revealed that coaches who arrive at the club have anxiety as the club has a tradition of sacking or amicably party ways with their coaches before their contracts elapse. Therefore, George believes the management should introspect and find the root cause of the problem if they wish to challenges for the top honors like they used in the previous years.
Supporters want results and evidently, Sergio’s excuses will soon wear thin.
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It’s do or die for Zebras
The senior national team, the Zebras, is currently in Equatorial Guinea to for an African Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie. Before they departed, the team’s coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, had his troops train in Morocco. This was through the agreement between the two countries.
The agreement between the BFA and the Fédération Moroccan Football Association states that the two nations will work together to organize friendly matches between their respective national teams. It also allows the establishment of football camps for the youth categories (U-15, U-17, and U-20), this includes women’s national teams.
The national team has played over 180 minutes in its two qualifying matches against Tunisia and Libya. Currently, the Zebras, Lesotho and Liberia are the only teams that haven’t scored yet in the competition (this is correct by press time on Friday).
Before the match against Equatorial Guinea match, the local boys who were once known as the whipping boys of Africa in the early 2000s, were languishing at the bottom of the log standings in group J. They lost their first match away to Libya on June 1, 2022. However, they managed to salvage a point against Tunisia last year.
Before the team left for Equatorial Guinea, coach Mpote urged his players to focus on keeping their hopes of making a return trip to the AFCON finals alive after an 11 year absence since the maiden appearance in 2012. He noted that they would not allow their opponents to score and would ensure that they would get a draw.
Despite the various changes that have occurred in the two countries’ football landscape, the two teams have only met once before. In 2010, the local boys defeated the Equatorial Guinea team in a friendly match, which ended in an emphatic win for the visitors. Since then, the two sides have realised different fortunes in FIFA rankings, with Equatorial Guinea ranked 51 places above the Zebras.
Meanwhile, in their last six games, Guinea has only managed to win one of them. They drew with Rwanda and Togo in September 2022 friendlies. They have found the back of the net just twice in their six games. On the other hand, the Zebras, won one match against Zambia and lost four on their way to finishing at the bottom of the group with four points. At the conclusion of their previous AFCON campaign, the local boys traveled to Zambia and secured a draw.
Despite the recent results of the Guinean team, which have only managed to draw with Rwanda and Togo in their last six matches, coach Mpote is still confident that his team will perform well against the hosts.
According to the head coach, the local boys have the necessary skills and resources to perform well against any country. He noted that the team’s coaches have been studying abroad to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of football.
“Tactically they should also be ready. We need your (Botswana fans) usual support, when we come back from Equatorial Guinea, we will go to Francistown, and we will need you. You are our 12th player, and you are very important to us.”
OBED ITANI CHILUME STADIUM CERTIFIED
This week, the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Tuelo Serufho revealed that the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium will host the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the local boys and Equatorial Guinea. The venue had initially failed an inspection test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, following the completion of the necessary works, the stadium was allowed to host the match.
According to BNSC Chief, Tuelo Serufho, the various requirements that the stadium must meet included having a designated parking area for the media and spectators, as well as having signage that will guide the spectators. He also noted that the venue now has a world-class media area.
Jagdish Shah rejects Rollers society
Township Rollers, one of the country’s most decorated football clubs with 15 premier league titles, is finding itself in a precarious situation as its long-term chief financier, Jagdish Shah, threatens to dump them if the society does not bow down to his demand of forfeiting their 20 percent interest in the company.
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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon
Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.
He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.
The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.