Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest sports superstar to contract COVID-19 after testing positive on Tuesday, although the Juventus and Portuguese forward remains asymptomatic.
The 35-year-old played for Portugal against France on Sunday and will now miss a game against Sweden in the Nations League, a competition run by European soccer’s governing body UEFA, in addition to a Juventus game or two. There is no telling where he contracted the virus. Juventus, which had two coronavirus-positive staffers, says Ronaldo tested negative up until his departure for Portugal’s camp for the international break. There is also no telling whom he might have given it to, although Portugal says every other player in the squad tested negative on Tuesday.
Ronaldo’s positive test offers a stark reminder that Europe and soccer remain very much in the thrall of the pandemic. It underscores, too, that perhaps not every game is equally important and that the necessity of playing them should be considered more carefully. Granted, it’s entirely possible that Ronaldo, who was spared infection during Turin’s roaring outbreak in the spring, contracted the disease before leaving for Portugal duty.
But international soccer represents a needless risk all the same. Unlike club soccer, be it the domestic leagues or continental competitions, it is inessential to sustaining the business of professional soccer. As it was argued in this space last week, only the final round of Euro 2021 playoffs had any urgency to be played, and even those could have been put off a few more months.
There was no good reason to play friendlies in this window. And the various continental Nations Leagues could just as easily have been shelved for a year, without significantly damaging the sport. (TV broadcast contracts could have been fulfilled in other ways down the line.)
Sending all of those players scurrying around the world, mixing the bubbles and pods the clubs have carefully maintained, always represented a danger to the game at large. Ronaldo is hardly the only player to have become infected during this international break. And he isn’t the first of the game’s high-wattage stars to get the virus either; Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and several other men you might have seen in TV commercials became victims previously.
Regardless of the origins of Ronaldo’s infection, the rash of new positive tests among national team players — members of the national teams of Ukraine, Peru, Switzerland, Spain, Senegal and other countries have missed games with this window because of COVID-19 — vindicates concerns their clubs held all along.
They were vehemently opposed to releasing their players to the national teams for fear of the virus spreading among their squads, both while they were away and when they returned, and incapacitating them for upcoming games. It is the clubs, after all, who pay the players’ salaries. They had the backing of international players association FIFPro and the European Club Association in this. But FIFA and UEFA forged ahead with the international window regardless, never mind a club schedule that had already been compressed into a shorter timeframe.
Township Rollers has seemingly flouted labour law procedures in the hiring of their Scottish coach Frank Nuttall. As things stand, the same approach seems to have been possibly applied in the signing of their new Ghanaian striker Francis Afriyie, BG Sport has established.
Rollers announced cutting ties with underperforming former coach Tomas Trucha on the 3rd January 2020. On 9thJanuary (Thursday), the club publicly called for job applications, citing the need to fill the vacant positions of head coach and professional football players. The closing date for applications as seen on the advert floated in local media outlets was 17th January 2020.
In an interview this week, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) CEO Mfolo Mfolo said the association on Monday (13th January 2020) had cleared Nuttal to start working. On Tuesday (the 14th) Rollers announced having hired Nuttall and by the 17th (Friday) his work permit had already been processed.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development clearly state that the employer does not have the right to hire their desired person before the closing date of the advert because the searching of prospective citizen employees will still be ongoing. Preference they say is first given to locals to apply.
According to Neo Lenkopane who is the Principal Public Relations Officer at the Ministry, an employer is required to advertise the post to check for the skills in the local labour market before engaging a non-citizen. If the employer hires a person of their choice before the circulation closes especially a non-citizen, it is blatantly unprocedural.
She further explained that an application for a work permit for such an employee has a high chance of being rejected by the Regional Immigrants Selection Board. By the time of going to print, BG Sport had not received clear answers on how Nuttall’s papers managed to be processed under such circumstances.
Meanwhile, Rollers has since pulled out the advert that was posted on their popular face book page two weeks back. When reached for comment, Rollers team manager, Motshegetsi Mafa said there had to be some misunderstanding with the dates as spelled out by this publication. “I am not sure of what you are saying, I will have to seek answers from the right office later; they have not been taking my calls, I believe they are still busy,” Mafa said before asking to be excused.
Nuttal, when asked if he had actually applied for the headcoach position or was headhunted said that he would not want to talk about anything related to how he arrived at Rollers. “I am not here for holiday, my focus is strictly on our next game this coming weekend,” he said.
The coach had also told this publication that he has been told not to speak about his contract with outsiders. Mafa would later confirm the instructions as true. Moreover, in another matter, Ghanaian striker Francis Afriyie, who received his work permit just this week, was announced as Rollers new player on the 8th January 2020. The advert for professional players would come a day later.
Rollers have been the first local club to witness the fastest processing of work permits in the recent past. However, the Ministry has since explained that there are various types of work permits and it is possible for some to be processed within two weeks or less as the process involved differ from one type of permit to the other. For example, there is an emergency work permit that can be issued in two weeks or less by the Commissioner.
Former Botswana Football Association (BFA) Technical Director Serame Letsoaka has officially been announced the new FIFA technical consultant for the South and East African regions.
Letsoaka spoke about his imminent departure late last year but noted that he will not leave right away as he still had some wrapping up to do at BFA. The former TD is actually still in the country and will probably be at the Association for the next six months or so before he leaves for good.
BFA Chief Executive Officer Mfolo Mfolo confirmed the appointment of Letsoaka at FIFA saying he is a hard working man and it was only a matter of time before he rises up to higher places. “He is bigger than any federation and we are not shocked about this. It was long coming, all that we are grateful for is the time he sacrificed heading our technical team,” he said.
Serame is the man who the BFA applauds for breathing life into coach education locally. He was appointed TD back in 2018 on a three-year term. Mfolo mentions that coach education had collapsed before Serame’s arrival however, the man ensured that there were coaching courses conducted for CAF A and B and all groups that underwent training are now waiting assessment.
He was also instrumental in pushing the youth programmes in regions together with the rise of women football. Nonetheless, Mfolo remained cagey about the already vacant TD position saying it was a bit too early to speak about any appointments.“There are processes to be followed so I will not comment on that for now,” he said.
He however, mentioned that German expert Carolin Braun will temporarily be assisting the technical department. Mfolo expressed confidence in that the lady has progressed well and most likely to fit well into association structures. Meanwhile, it is expected that whoever will be appointed has big shoes to fill given the reputation and impact Serame had at the association. It is not clear if considering a local will be an option. It is alleged that before the appointment of Serame, the BFA believed that no local was skilled enough to lead the four-year programme that the BFA had embarked on.
Serame also had, during his time at the top, believed that Batswana should relax and be willing to learn He always argued that there was no point in complaining over foreigners being hired when they bring a lot of expertise to Botswana.“They should learn and be able to run things in their own country instead of always crying when there are no results coming their way,” he had advised.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) will not present a complete audited financial report to members at the upcoming Annual General Assembly (AGA) to be held in Gaborone this coming weekend, BG Sport can confirm.
If anything, a draft report may be issued instead. This is the second year in succession that the association would have failed to produce the report well in time. The 2017 and 2018 audited reports were only presented at an Extra Ordinary Meeting that the BFA convened in October 2018. Disgruntled BFA members this week confirmed that they have received official notification regarding the AGA from the association without financial reports in the information pack.
This is despite the constitution saying formal communication should be made seven days before the date of the General Assembly. The notification should contain the agenda, the president’s activity report, the financial statements and the auditors report together with any other relevant documents.
This has left disgruntled members believing that it has become custom for the association not to produce the report. Moreover, they allege that tempers flew at Lekidi offices this week with members of the National Executive Committee said to be unpleased. Without holding anything back, the members sharply pointed a finger at the BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo, the accounting officer, saying he better have answers as to why things are seemingly going astray.
It appears the members are not at all pleased with the CEO as they added that since Mfolo joined BFA back in 2017, his team has not been able to furnish the members with the financial reports in time. In response, Mfolo admitted that the auditing process was still ongoing but did not take blame for it. “It was an issue of regions sending incomplete information and this has largely caused audit delays,” he said. The CEO explained that in the past, only the BFA office report was compiled however they now have to include reports for all the 17 regions, Botswana Premier League and women football, among others.
“It is not an excuse however we also need them to do their part to ensure that the process is completed well on time. This should not call for any worry as we intend to normalize the matter going forward,” Mfolo said. He assured that they would be taking action against those that submit required information after much pushing. Mfolo noted to convene an Extra Ordinary Meeting is costly and has to be avoided. They are however headed that way. Meanwhile, there is overwhelming fear that should BFA continue failing to produce the reports on time, it will only worsen things with the already strained relationship between BFA and the Ministry of Sports.
Minister Tshekedi Khama recently said he will be keeping a close eye at BFA and it was alleged that he even demanded access to the association’s audited reports. It was alleged that the Minister was a concerned man in that millions were splashed at BFA with results not showing.
The international football governing body, FIFA is also probably paying attention to details and might not take lightly to BFA failing to produce audited reports on time. In a recent interview with BG Sport, BFA president Maclean Letshwiti said nobody was safe before FIFA. The governing body is reportedly busy doing a clean up campaign and will not take light issues that suggesting maladministration. Nevertheless, Mfolo hinted that they would be submitting a report to FIFA next month.
FIFPro, which represents professional footballers, has announced that Black Forest has been banned by FIFA Disciplinary Committee from signing any new players for violation of contractual agreements.
The ban will be effective from January 2020. “We have been banned from signing players for the transfer window of January 2020,” Black Forest Team Manager, Mompati Ditiro said. It’s no secret that at the start of the Debswana First Division Magoleng will be with their usual young talented players. For the past few seasons what has been at the heart of Magoleng was a strong emphasis on producing and nurturing young talent.
“We are signing players and we continue to bring many special talent to the team. Currently, we are in talks with several teams and we have 70 percent chances of returning to top flight football in the next season. We are carefully signing players and we are putting into consideration the transfer ban in January.”
Producing a crème of players was the second nature of the side which fed the local giants with the finest players. Now they have lost their best quality for nothing and are at the brink of collapse as they continue to lose more players in the transfer market.
The recent players to dump the side are Maikano Maikano and Donald Botshoma. Botshoma has since found a home at Gaborone United. “We have lost our best players because teams deceive them, it’s not that they pay us a lump sum or anything, they trick these players and we are left without any choice but to sell them. We will produce even better players than we have produced.”
Recent sources have told this publication that the team is nearing collapse and their First Division status might be up for sale. Quizzed about their eminent collapse and if they will be selling their status, he said, “We are not going to collapse and we are not selling our status, those are just rumors which are far from being true.”
Amongst the big names that have donned the Forest regalia are Thatayaone Kgamanyane, Gofaone Mabaya, Lynoth Chikuhwa, Maikano Maikano Tonderai Nyakuba, Donald Botshoma, Michael James and many other talented players.
Age defying, 35-year-old Zebras striker, Joel Mogorosi is currently one of the hottest free agents in the domestic football. This should not be the case given his advanced age but the Kanye native has several teams baying for his signature and as things stand, he is currently weighing his options. Gifted with physical strength above average football IQ and natural leadership skills, the former Township Rollers winger continues to rob father time on the pitch.
Mogorosi who runs by several monikers including Mahindra, Spitfire and Juluka continues to carry his own weight, both at club and national team level. This past season Juluka, now in the twilight of his career has endeared himself to both Rollers and Zebras fans, has kept his stock on the rise and put younger players to shame after finishing in the top 3 goal scorers of the BTC Premiership this past season. Despite being in his mid -30s, Juluka has proven to be a freak of nature in keeping his speed and goal scoring prowess, proving to be an asset to any club he chooses. In most cases, Juluka exhibits primal instincts and oozes confidence behind the ball, which has proven the hunger he still retains for the game.
The past few weeks have seen Juluka dominating the off season and transfer window deadlines as supporters and stakeholders continue to speculate on his immediate future in the coming 2020/21 season. It seems like football has been good to Juluka with a career spanning close to 20 years and the winger has enjoyed success and eluded controversy and career ending injuries that has marred the careers of some of his contemporaries. Having started a semi-professional career at the then BMC in the early 2000s, Mogorosi has travelled the world including Cyprus before coming back to Township Rollers and later Mochudi Centre Cheifs. Through all his travels and adventure Mogorosi remained a top player and rarely lost his form where ever he went.
It was not long before South Africa PSL side Bloemfontein Celtics came knocking and secured Mogorosi’s signature. A two-year consistent spell at Celtics saw Juluka’s popularity and myth grow on both sides of the border. After the PSL spell Magosi triumphantly returned to Botswana where he would help in the rebuilding of Township Rollers into a local Juggernaut. What is even more amazing about Juluka, who quickly became a football brand in his own right, is that he juggled club football with international success at the Zebras. Hardly articulate, Juluka usually puts his point across and inspires young players during big matches. Perhaps one of Juluka’s lowest points was failing to compete at the 2012 Afcon finals when the team made their maiden appearance at the African showpiece.
This coming season, Juluka will probably be authoring the final few chapters of his stellar football career. As things stand, the player is said to be at a stalemate with his beloved Rollers who are reported to be offering less money for his services. Speculation is that other local teams have expressed interest in Juluka including Security Systems and Extension Gunners. In an interview this week, the Botswana football living legend said there are currently five league clubs after his services.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am not after money.
There is no way I can make money from football at this age. I am aware that the end is near,” he said.Despite his humble demeanour, Juluka commands an illustrious career that would make a compelling biography. Having played for the national team since 2005, Juluka said he has over 100 caps for Botswana and has lost count along the way. I have always been part of the national team and I am definitely in the top five of the most capped players in the national team. Quizzed on how many trophies (league and cups) throughout his career, Juluka said he has lost count of this too.
“I have won just about every trophy in the country. The only one I have not won is the newly introduced Orange FA Cup.” The player who is definitely not shy when speaking about his achievement said part of his success is that he never missed training. I was always serious about training and stayed passionate and hungry when it came to football. Mogorosi credits people like Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare and Patrick Sibanda as inspiration for his long career. These are the people I started out with when I played for Maletamotse.
The senior ladies football team competing at the ongoing 2019 edition of the COSAFA Championships staged in South Africa made history by reaching the tournament semi -finals this week.
Botswana advanced to the next round of the tournament after holding Zambia to a goalless draw this past Tuesday. Both teams advanced to the knockout stage with Botswana placed as best runner up.
The local ladies have indeed delivered on the assignment at hand, which was that they advance from the group stages this year. For the first time ever, Botswana came close to reaching the semi finals last year but crashed out in the dying minutes of their game against South Africa.
Despite the core of the senior national team being away in Slovakia preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, the promoted senior team has put a splendid show in South Africa. To this end, the team has not conceded but has four goals scored in three matches. The senior team began their campaign on a high note against Namibia, ending the match with a 1-0 score line. The local side went on to humble Mauritius with a 3-0 drubbing and ending the group stages with a goalless draw against Zambia.
The Mares will face off with Zambia once again in the Semi finals while the hosts who are also the tournament defending champions, South Africa, will play Zimbabwe to determine finalists.
It will be interesting to see how the local ladies respond to their first ever semi-final appearance or if they have drawn inspiration from the men team, the Zebras. The Zebras reached the COSAFA finals recently but failed to bring it home, also suffering defeat to Chipolopolo, Zambia. The women final will be played this coming Saturday.
Meanwhile, the under 20 ladies have bowed out of the competition with two losses and one win. The young Mares could only manage a royal exit by beating Eswatini 3-0 on their last game of the group stages. However, it was not enough to save the day as the team was humiliated in their opening games against Zambia and Tanzania.
Contrary to public expectation, it seems Township Rollers does not need to dig deep into their coffers to host a South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) giant that is Kaizer Chiefs.
Rollers will play a friendly match against the SA based team at the newly built Jamali stadium in Tlokweng on Saturday afternoon. Information reaching BG Sport suggests that it took strategic negotiations led by Rollers president Jagdish Shah to strike a deal with Amakhosi. Speculation has always been rife that Rollers might be coughing up significant amounts of money as a result of playing Chiefs regularly.
“Not a single thebe will be paid by Rollers for hosting Kaizer Chiefs in Botswana, all expenses will be paid for by the visiting team,” a source that preferred anonymity said. However, Rollers Spokesperson Bafana Pheto, when reached said there was a ‘bill’ that comes with hosting Chiefs but refrained from sharing the figures and only hinted that it was not as steep, as one would imagine.
“We have a solid relationship with the team, so costs will be minimal because the two teams reached some agreements which will benefit both,” Pheto said. He would, however not go into detail what the agreement was. With that, it has now become regular since a few years ago, that Rollers and Chiefs meet up during pre -season preparations.
The Glamour boys as Chiefs is affectionately known is one of the most supported and successful teams in the PSL with more than 50 trophies to their name. The Amakhosi support base stretches across sub Saharan Africa with a following of more than 10 million. Botswana is no exception as there is a relatively large group that is very much faithful to the SA giant team. Playing in Botswana would surely come in handy, as Chiefs can be certain of a huge turn out coupled with Rollers’s equally colossal fan base. This publication understands that currently, not all is well at Amakhosi, having shockingly finished ninth last season, the worst performance in more than a decade.
TS Galaxy also added to their worries, stunning the Soweto team to win the Nedbank Cup Final, a loss to TS Galaxy left the Amakhosi family panicking wondering if the results were signs of dark days ahead. While in Botswana, Chiefs will be looking to reassure its wide net of supporters that the giant is not dying as they will be unveiling season 2019/20 new signings. Perhaps a few supporters from SA will also travel to Botswana to witness the season icebreaker. A fresh and balanced squad is the only thing that supporters feel is the missing link to return to their glory days.
Rollers will also on the day officially announce the full squad for the next season. Rollers returned from South Africa this past Thursday after playing friendly games against Super Sport United, Orbit College and National First Division (NFD) side of Royal Eagles. They also played Tanzanian Champions Simba on Thursday morning.
On Friday afternoon, the Glamour boys are expected to arrive in Botswana ahead of their Saturday clash.Tickets to the game are going at P100 grandstand and P75 elsewhere with the stadium said to be accommodating only 8 000 spectators. Notwane and Extension Gunners are expected to kick start the Saturday programme in the morning.
The current transfer window has not been a hive of activities as expected. By any means it has not been the so-called silly season as there have not been big player moves save for the trio that crossed over to TS Galaxy in South Africa.
What is even more surprising is that the transfer of coaches has been more interesting than that of the players. The coaching landscape in Botswana has gotten even more familiar as old BTC Premiership faces are being recycled and tossed around. Nevertheless, it makes for an interesting 2019/2020 season as it quickly approaches in a month or so. By the look of things, it might be interesting to see the teams clamouring for survival as the Botswana Premier League coffers continue to dry after loyal sponsor, BTC threatened to abandon ship.
Only the most resilient and loyal coaches are expected to stay with their teams through thick and thin. Perhaps, the biggest catch of the season might be the usual suspect and silverware grabbing specialist Madinda Ndlovu who has recently signed with Gaborone United. Given the return of their ‘sugar daddy,’ Nicholas Zakhem and the acquisition of Ndlovu, the Money Machines are set to become top 8 contenders. With the right players, Madinda who has left struggling Bulawayo Giants Highlanders in Zimbabwe will be a force to reckon with. A passionate coach who specialises in attacking football, Madinda is set to bring the good old days along with flair back to the Reds.
Ndlovu, a veteran who has won the BTC Premiership and Mascom Top 8, will be expected to return to his winning ways at Moyagoleele. Reigning champions and GU Gaborone rival Township Rollers have signed former Orapa United Tomas Trucha of the Czech Republic in what is believed to be a one-year contract. Trucha’s task will be simple as he will be expected to retain the league title as well as win the Mascom Top 8 and Orange FA Cup. Besides the domestic league, Trucha will stay busy as Rollers are set to campaign in the CAF Champions league. In a surprising turn of events Sharps Shooting stars have acquired the services of former Extension Gunners headcoach, Enos Mmesi.
With Sharps, Mmesi has a big challenge and no excuses. Unlike Gunners and a strange spell at the relegated Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Mmesi will have the pre-season to prepare his charges for it will be long and bumpy ride in the next season. Furthermore, speculation has been rife this week that veteran league coach, Stanley Mwaanga has joined Extension Gunners for an undisclosed amount of time. In another surprise move, Notwane has plunged into the unknown and appointed Serbian coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic as headcoach. After a long spell in the BTC Premiership, the Serbian has never claimed silverware for any of the teams he has led.
Earlier this month 2018/19 title runners up Jwaneng Galaxy confirmed that their talented Portuguese headcoach Miguel Da Costa has decided to return to the team for some unfinished business. This means Galaxy will likely become a threat to any of their rivals. Another Debswana Mining Company sponsored team Orapa United, are yet to confirm their headcoach Mogomotsi Mpote who has the dual role in coaching the national team. Another coach staying put at his team is the methodical Mike Dubula Sithole at Police XI. Meanwhile, Luis Setshwane who coaches BDF XI seems set to reprise his role as headcoach at Matebele. Flying under the radar is the colourful Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare who seems to have pleased his employers at Security Systems this past season.
As the 2018/19 BTC premiership league winds up, there is a high possibility that coach transfer movement will be the highlight of the 2019/20-transfer window period and the pre season preparations.
Already three big names in the league of Jwaneng Galaxy, Gaborone United and Township Rollers are penetrating the market in search of new coaches for next season. Coach Miguel Da Costa of Galaxy is allegedly eyeing a move to league giants Township Rollers at the end of the 2018/19 season. BG Sport was reliably informed by one of Rollers’s technical team members that Da Costa has explained that if he does not land a job at Rollers, then he is most likely to leave the country for greener pastures.
What the Portuguese coach is reported to be in need of is a chance to prove himself at a champions league stage. The gaffer won the Mascom Top 8 glory this season to register his first local success with Galaxy.Galaxy spokesperson, Tankiso Morake confirmed this week that the coach’s contract with the club will expire at the end of the season and they are still hopeful that they will convince the gaffer to stay. “We really enjoyed his services however, he has asked that contract talks be postponed until the very last league game,” Morake said.
He would however explain that Da Costa has not confirmed to them of any intentions of joining the Rollers side and always laughs off the matter when questioned. On the other side, Rollers coach Rodolfo Zapata whose contract also comes to an end this month is ready to pack his bags at the Rollers house. BG Sport gathered that no talks concerning contract extension with Zapata have taken place to this end. It is believed that Rollers is now looking for a replacement for the Argentine coach who only joined the club on a six months contract last year.
Zapata came in following the departure of former coach Nikola Kavazovic and the club president and financier Jagdish Shah allegedly spearheaded the Argentine’s appointment. The move left the Rollers technical department divided and there is no guarantee what is most likely to happen should Shah overrule and retain Zapata. On the other side of town, Philemon Makhwengwe who came to Gaborone United’s rescue last year to ensure they secure a top 8 spot might be shown the exit door when his contract comes to an end next month.
It is not clear where Makhwengwe went wrong however, it seems Gaborone United management is not convinced and happy with his capabilities. He too has no offer on the table from GU and in his latest interview with this publication, he explained that he is happy that he delivered on his assignments, which was among others to rise from the relegation spot and finish in the top 8 spot. An official at GU when explaining their reasons for doubting Da Phil said it was worrisome that despite finishing in the top 8 category, the team struggled to collect maximum points even when playing low ranked teams.