The final half of the beMOBILE Premiership’s marathon stretch takes centre stage this weekend amid an array of unofficial transfer activities by all the sixteen elite league clubs.
As at Wednesday afternoon this week, only one transfer had been officially completed through the premier league office – that of Keolopile Molemi who joined BDF XI from Miscellaneous. The rest is just transfer speculation devoid of base.
Yet the signs of imminent movements are potent, given the activities and conduct of some players, some of who have already started training at teams with which they are widely linked. And now the wheeling and dealing has begun in earnest; the dog-eat-dog reality of the haves and the have-not has pitiably begun to gnaw on the clubs already struggling to meet the welfare demands of their own players.
This is because the resourced big brothers of the league continue to hover ominously above the little talent that the minnows has. The poor sides are hapless, the big guns are prying on the players they had hoped would aid their survival chances in the gruesome journey that lies ahead.
It has become the reality of Botswana’s football that now sees the once promising Sankoyo Bushbucks sliding dangerously on the edge of doom. Not that there is anything wrong with the rich targeting the poor in football – it is a norm the world over. Green Lovers also find themselves stuck in the same boat of helplessness where any knock by ‘big brother’ stirs the hornet’s nest.
All the three teams beneath these two on the league’s log table – Motlakase Power Dynamos, BR Highlanders and FC Satmos – also have a future looking too bleak to embrace as they too, lack the financial power to fend off the opportunistic approaches made on their remaining saviours.
Joined by Nico United in their world of dire straits, these have-not of the premier league will until January 31 live in constant apprehension of not knowing who of their edgy players will next seek a move for greener pastures.
Now the cash-strapped have become a target of the rich, and it is done with impunity. Mochudi Centre Chiefs have reportedly made a swoop for three players at a financially-struggling Motlakase, among them goalkeeper Daniel Kedidimetse. T
here is also the Under 20 duo of Thato Kebue as well as Gape Mohutsiwa and with the financial might that Magosi commands, as well as the club’s reputable brand, it will be difficult for the trio of Motlakase’s livewire to ignore the dangling carrots in favour of sentimental loyalty.
It gets worse for the Palapye side with more reports that another moneyed glamour side Gaborone United – interestingly dubbed ‘The Money-Machine albeit for different reasons - are also looking into their restless nest in an attempt to make away with the budding Kebue and their skipper Lerato Botshelo. And what can poor Motlakase do – faced with the combined power of clubs that literally own Botswana’s football landscape given their financial prowess?
The money woes engulfing Sankoyo Bush Bucks have of late been so amplified that the SOS message from Maun reached the corridors of opulence in and around Gaborone. The mighty Reds were quick to respond. They have dangled their fat carrot to help the North-West side out of having to deal with the salary arrears due to their star player Jackson Lesole. Now the player can look forward to concentrating on his football knowing that he has a reliable employer who will pay in time without any uninvited explanations.
The poor Sankoyo side will thus grow poorer both on and off the pitch. Given the strained finances, the Maun side's woes could neither escape the attention of the diamond-laced Galaxy FC of Jwaneng. The Debswana-backed side went for their prized asset, Morris Ruzivo, perhaps out of recommendation from their former coach Philani Mabena who obviously has an insight into the disparity of wages between the two clubs. The move is yet to be formalized with the premier league office as well, but the deal is said to be 95 percent done.
Another club backed by diamond-mining Debswana – Orapa United - could not help but join the fray in using their financial muscle to lead another budding young national team star into temptation. Like Sankoyo, Nico United have made their bankrupt status public, and it was only a matter of time before a moneyed club made a move to poach from their stable.
The Ostriches went for Onkabetse Makgantai, one of the few notable performers in the Selebi Phikwe side, and the young lad cannot resist the opportunity to go and experience a glittering life away from the ailment-inducing smokes of the copper mining town.
Majombolo also find themselves having to surrender to the advances of Gaborone United who have declared a desire to prize their defender Kaizer Sefore away to the Red Enclave in Gaborone. In fact, Gaborone United are on such a mission that they are now punching above their weight – they have caused Kabelo Seakanyeng to quit his army job so as to join them from BDF XI.
Although there are some emerging complications with Skhebo’s move, Gaborone United have given a signal of intent, even going as far as tempting top players such as Lemponye Tshireletso from Mochudi Centre Chiefs.Almost every club in the league is being linked with a move for this and that player, big or small. The league landscape has become a jungle of the unknown, where every animal ought to be on the run to ensure survival - it is either the animal eats, or it is eaten.
Thus the financially struggling have also resorted to poaching from the lower leagues where they too can flex their muscles. Both BR Highlanders and Green Lovers are linked with players from lower leagues to ensure survival is not just for the fittest, but also for the smartest.
And Extension Gunners, without much financial power, have resorted to being smart as well. They have reportedly targeted players whose contracts have expired and those who asked for transfers from their clubs. A number of players continue to be linked with the Peleng giants, among them Township Rollers’ out-of-favour Kobamelo Kebaikanye. Mandla Mgadla is also close to making an official move as well as Emmanuel Nlu.
There are still a lot of days to the end of January at which the transfer window will close, and more speculation on the imminent movements of players will continue to surface. Premier league CEO Bennett Mamelodi confirmed to BG Sports that the only veritable transfer is that of Molemi who joined BDF XI.
For the rest of the clubs, nothing official has passed through the premier league office. In the meantime, the league resumes this Friday with all the sixteen premier league sides engaged until Sunday.