The 2015/16 beMobile Premier- ship has gone half circle. After 15 rounds of exciting action, a bruising battle is expected in the sec- ond round which will see some clubs pushing for glory while others will be sweating for survival at the wrong end of the table.
THE ELATION OF VICTORY
The destination of this season’s league trophy is unknown but the hint is there. Township Rollers are top of the log with 37 points from 15 outings and they remain undefeated. Mapalastina have been unstoppable and their 82% point- accumulation was achieved largely due to the tactical prowess of their English gaffer Mark Harrison and the commitment of players as the lat- ter have accepted the former’s rotation policy. Popa have been free-scoring and conceding less.
The runaway league leaders would not want to suffer the embarrassment of last year when they gave away the title to Mochudi Centre Chiefs in the second round after an im- pressive start to the campaign. Player/ assistant coach Sekhana Koko has told BG Sport that they learnt a tough les- son and this season they will surely work hard to avoid the repeat of what happened last year.
Only consistency can help Rollers achieve their objective. The football club’s recent success has been soured by their off-the-field issues involving the management. With many court battles anticipated from January between owners Jagdish Shah and Som- erset Gobuiwang, Popa better tread carefully because financial problems are always evident in the field of play, and that could burst their bubble.
The biggest mistake that Rollers can make at this point in time is to think they are alone in the race. In Orapa United they have a fierce rival who would want to clinch the title not just to upset Popa but to go one better from their 2nd spot finish of the last campaign. The Ostriches have proven to be stubborn especially when playing at home. Head coach Madinda Ndlovu continued where former coach Maxwell Moyo left off when he left for Police XI and assembled a strong side capable of finishing top.
The last game of the first round saw the top two sides labouring to a goalless draw and in Orapa, United gave Rollers a taste of what to expect from them in the second round. United boast a good financial backing from the Debswana Diamond Group and they are expected to make a few signings in January, especially that Ndlovu has told this publication that he will offload some players in January. Out of the 45 point available in the first round, they man- aged 32 (71%).
Despite a slow start to their title defence, Mochudi Centre Chiefs must be written off at own risk. The Kgatleng giants lie third on the table, tied at 29 points with BDF XI. Despite being eight points adrift midway through the term, they can still wake from the dead and mount a serious title charge.
Last season they defied all odds to leapfrog Rollers and win the league in the second round. Magosi are famous for poaching other teams’ stars mid- way through the season and they are rumoured to be on that path again. In the past they stole both Joel Mogorosi and Sekhana Koko from Township Rollers and on both occasions they won the league.
Will they dismantle Rollers with the acquisition of one of their star players? Rollers have many fringe players who can start games at Magosi. The likes of Gofaone Tiro and Kobamelo Kebaikanye come to mind. That aside, Magosi coach Mike Sithole has won the local league title before, he knows and has what it takes. The arrival of Keitumetse Pio Paul has been hailed by Sithole as a positive development. It remains to be seen which of the three teams at the top will be victorious come May.
EXCITEMENT OF TOP 8 QUALIFICATION
For some teams, qualifying for the Mascom Top 8 Cup is a big achieve- ment. Former league champions Gaborone United find themselves outside the championship bracket. Moyagoleele has endured indifference this season and undesirable results led to the departure of Coach Rahman Gumbo. They currently lie 7th of the log and are expected to finish in the Top 8.
They will be joined by surprise package Miscellaneous. The Serowe side is currently 5th on the table, 10 points behind leaders Rollers. Miscel- laneous coach Russia Chaba has put together a team worthy of a Top 8 finish and their 4-0 drubbing of BR Highlanders last weekend sent a clear message that they are in the top flight to stay. Fourth placed BDF XI are pe- rennial Top 8 qualifiers.
Coach Bestin Chambeshi told this publication in a previous interview that for him the sky is the limit. The soldiers will gun for a Top 4 finish and will be hoping for a slip-up at the top and possibly have a say in the race for the top two positions. Police XI resurrected and registered two successive victories against BDF XI and Nico United. This was after they went for close to two months without a win.
The cops have 25 points in the bag and they look destined to finish in the top 8. Wesley Mondo’s Nico United play promising football. They too have told BG Sport that they will finish in the top 4 and challenge for honours next season. Despite losing to Police XI last time out, they have shown passion and flair in their game. The experience of coach Mondo is expected to play itself out and propel them to a respectable posi-financial hardships. Extension Gunners should not be ruled out of the top 8. under charismatic coach Daniel Nare has restored belief that the Peleng shooters could actually be counted high when the season ends.
DRAMA OF SURVIVAL
With 18 points from the first 15 games in their maiden season in the top flight, Green Lovers will feel successful if they retain their status. The rookies blew hot and cold for most parts of the first round. Despite losing nine games, they secured six victories of their own and currently sit four points away from the top 8, a remarkable feat for the new men.
The battle for positions 9 to 13 (survival) will be between Lovers, Gilport Lions, Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Jwaneng Galaxy. Lions would want to finish higher and account for the P6 million they have in the bank. Sankoyo also look destined to survive, but they will have to show high levels of endurance as they travel the longest distance as compared to other teams. With all the support they get from the Jwaneng mine, Galaxy really should be doing better. Of the potential survivors, they are the closest to the relegation places and that should worry them.
PAIN OF RELEGATION
By all accounts, BR Highlanders, Motlakase Power Dynamos and FC Satmos are relegation contenders. Highlanders made a promising start and when they held Rollers to a 1-all draw in Serowe, they were regarded as potential giant killers and their current position doesn’t justify that night’s performance. The club has confirmed the departure of head coach Tebogo Mokute this week. Whoever takes over will have a mammoth task of overturning the team’s fortunes.
On the other hand, Motlakase claimed the scalp of Gaborone United last week Wednesday and that was thought to be the first sign of good things, only for the Palapye side to lose to Gunners three days later and remain in the bottom three. They too are struggling financially and the departure of Blessing Moyo was attributed to the team’s adverse financial position.
FC Satmos remain the only side without victory in the first round. They have only four points and relegation looks like a surety for the Phikwe side. It will be sad for the Northern football regions if all the axed teams will be from the North.
The second round starts now.