Top 8 loses its spark

Neo Masanako BG correspondent
Thursday, 22 November 2018
COLLISION COURSE…Mascom Top 8 returns COLLISION COURSE…Mascom Top 8 returns

FOOTBALL
The Mascom Top 8 organizers and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) need to introspect and find better ways of re-energizing and reinventing popular tournament affectionately known as Tse Di Tona. As the 2018/19 Top 8 season kicks into action tonight with BDF XI visiting the Ostriches at Itekeng stadium in Orapa. There is actually nothing new to the game. Well except for the much increased P1.3 million -prize money that was announced last season.

Even the season 8 launch held recently in Gaborone did not come with the usual pomp and fanfare expected to keep spectators on their toes. The launch ceremony was rather low key as teams simply presented and posed with their opponent.
Or is it this particular existing quarter- finals fixture criteria that makes the tournament launch appear monotonous because supporters can predict the fixtures.

Perhaps it is high time organisers bring back the spark and hype that came with the Top 8 when it first blasted into the scene. Even the Top 8 clubs are of the opinion that the tournament could do with a bit of revamping. This week the defending champions Township Rollers Spokesperson Bafana Pheto blamed it all on the organizers. Pheto told this publication this week in an interview that clubs are never involved in decision- making processes however they are the ones playing the game.

“The launch is not exciting because we already know what will unfold there and this way of doing things is not even benefiting the sponsor because there is no football cream in it,’ Pheto said. In his opinion, if only after the games would the organizers find time to involve and try to consult would things get better because they will be enlightened oh how to better package the tournament next time.

Black Forest Chairman Emmanuel Kekobilwe believes that the way the quarter -final fixtures are done is boring and needs to be changed. He said the organizers have to move in with the times and perhaps do a toss and draw session. Actually, the local Premier League Board is said to have agreed to change the system however it still beats them why they later decided against it.

“We have to move in with the times, a toss would mean teams will go into the launch anxious to know who they stand to face in their first game, not forgetting the spectators uproar,” Kekobilwe said.Another worrisome matter is that BFA is still holding tight to running the tournament and not freeing the responsibility to Premier League.

Kekobilwe said that BFA needs to focus on other issues and give teams the freedom to run the tournament the way they see fit saying it is the only way they can bring the excitement to the tournament.The Black Forest chairman said inspiration should be drawn from neighboring country South Africa. “They have moved on with the times and the South Africa Football Association is not holding unto the tournament, the Premier League is in full control,” he said.

For his part the Chairman of BPL outfit Sharps Shooting Stars Dickson Wiya said the is no buzz amongst spectatorship and the organizers need to change things.  He noted that teams could easily manipulate, predict or dictate the system when playing in the league to determine where they should land and who to play against.

Wiya noted that at the end of the day it is all about money and teams can chase even gate takings or eyeing to small teams to eliminate in the quarter- finals to secure themselves a seat in the semi finals. “It somehow kills the aspect of fair play, a draw would not be so obvious,” Wiya said.Meanwhile Miscellaneous will face Gaborone United at Serowe Sports Complex tomorrow while on Sunday Jwaneng Galaxy will play Sharps Shooting Stars in Jwaneng. Township Rollers will play Black Forest on the 30th November 2018.

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