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.
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.
The decline of Township Rollers’ fortunes was inevitable in the eyes of some of its supporters and local football observers. The reigning BTC Premiership champions crashed out of the 2018/19 CAF champions league this past Tuesday following their historic exploits in the same competitions last season.
Popa were knocked out of the tournament by the less fancied Bantu FC via a 4-2 penalty after a 2-2 aggregate score lines in Lesotho this past Tuesday. The two teams played to a one all draw last week and worrying signs were already apparent at MmaMasire. There are many talking points derived from the poor form the reigning champions are currently experiencing. Many, including supporters and football critics have quickly blamed it on the technical team department. It is now apparent that there is a gaping hole in the Rollers technical team following the departure of Serbian head coach Nikola Kavazovic before the looming arrival of Argentine Rudolf Zapata as the replacement.
During his brief stay at MmaMasire the controversial Serbian instilled his own ethos in both players, technical team and management. Despite an unconventional way of doing things, the polarising character, Kavazovic brought results to MmaMasire; in what was almost a clean sweep, he won the 2017/18 title league, Mascom Top 8 and led Rollers to the historic feat of becoming the first local team to make it to the CAF group stages and attracted a seven figure pay .
One could now argue that what is lacking at Rollers is leadership, at least in the technical department. Prior to the first leg encounter against Bantu, Rollers caretaker coach Thabo Motang declared that anything less than reaching the CAF champs league group stages will be a total failure. He also declared that positive results and nothing else is what Rollers expected.
“It is a pressure cooker,” Motang declared.In Kavazovic, a staunch disciplinarian who did not pamper any player at MmaMasire with heads often rolling in both the technical team and players. It is now apparent that Kavazovic has left a void within Popa and opponents like Bantu are there to pick up the pieces. It would be difficult for incoming Rollers coach to fill the void as he will need to instil his own philosophy and culture at the team. With some of the best players the local market has to offer, Zapata will be able to scrape through and stay in the title race. However, it remains to be seen whether Zapata’s version of Popa will reach the heights Kavazovic has achieved.
Zapata believes in a more physical game and rigorous training regime that might stress some of the aging players within MmaMasire. The Argentine, whose long term plans at Rollers are in doubt, is a capable coach, having led a languishing Gaborone United to an amazing position four in the league last season. It is not only international teams that are a threat to Rollers, rival teams like Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy are watching from nearby and will be aiming to take advantage of the current poor form at Rollers.
Orapa have already claimed Popa’s scalp during the first round and the former Rollers assistant coach Teenage Mpote is aiming to inflict more damage in the second round. The fall of Rollers this season is just another example of the lack of consistency and continuity in local football.
There is more to the recent departure of Township Rollers, coach Mark Harrison than meets the eye. On the surface, it is the story of the nomadic coach finding greener pastures in South Africa at Premier Soccer League side, Baroka FC. Beneath the surface, there is suspicion that both Township Rollers and Harrison only took advantage of a long time offer at Baroka to quickly sneak the gaffer out of the country and stay clear of looming trouble with the African football governing body, CAF.
The recent resignation of a Botswana Football Association's long serving employee is also linked to what amounts to a fraud scandal that is traced to Lesotho where Harrison was dubiously awarded a CAF rated coaching licence required for one to coach in the CAF Champions League. The erstwhile BFA officer is said to have aided Harrison's acquisition of the bogus licence, and his resignation has been linked to the matter as he is said to have known that somehow this matter would be exposed. Reports suggest that Baroka FC had long offered Harrison a job, with Rollers managing to keep the South African side at bay by satisfying the coach.
At the realisation that trouble was looming in relation to Harrison's coaching credentials, Baroka FC was revisited and an agreement was reached, ensuring that Rollers would not answer questions relating to the dubious qualifications of the coach. But BG Sport is informed that Rollers already have a letter from the BFA that asked the league champions to explain the anomaly. This, it is understood, was after CAF had sought a similar explanation from the BFA after Harrison's name had been submitted for the impending CAF Champions League games.
But the premiership champions this week denied any knowledge of their former coach being investigated by the Botswana Football Association. Rollers spokesperson Bafana Pheto said they were not aware of any investigations being carried out by the football governing body. Pheto said he has not heard anything from the media regarding the matter. He added that such issue may be involving Harrison as an individual.
“We had submitted the names of the players with CAF going into the competition, which included the coach. If he did not have the right qualifications they would have rejected him,” Pheto said. Pheto insisted that Harrison had the right qualifications to coach at Rollers. He argued that the team would have not hired Harrison if this was not the case.Meanwhile, Pheto said they are going ahead with their CAF champions' league campaign despite losing the coach. “The resignation of the coach was not planned. The competition requires a CAF A licence but the team will be coached by Teenage Mpote who possesses a CAF B licence.”
Two top BTC premiership clubs Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs this week claimed to have lost business since the introduction of the e-ticketing system for their games.
The two teams claim the e-ticketing system has brought more worries to clubs than the previous over-the-counter sales. Both Rollers and Chiefs have since agreed that the system is not client friendly. In an interview this week, Rollers spokesperson Phempherethe Pheto dismissed the web ticket system as a headache for both clubs and the league. “It does not work well for our clientele and it is a challenge when it comes to accountability,” explained Pheto.
The system was supposed to be piloted for a few games before the board can make a final decision. This publication is in possession of blank tickets provided for a recent premiership game. In addition, Pheto said the league has not provided them with a report concerning blank tickets or whether investigations were carried out in the matter.
He added that they are still waiting for findings. Moreover, Pheto said they have since engaged the league on numerous accounts concerning the system. “I approached the Botswana Premier League (BPL) to address this matter. However, it seems BPL board supported the system,” said the Rollers spokesperson. Pheto cited poor network at Serowe Shoprite as one of the shortcomings that come with the system.
Rollers played many home games at Serowe Sports Complex last season. According to Pheto, the BPL board recently agreed to abandon the web tickets system, adding that the system was meant to stop tickets from being sold at the gates. Pheto, said the main challenge with web tickets is that clubs receive tickets very late especially at category A games.
For his part, Mochudi Centre Chiefs spokesperson, Clifford Mogomotsi shared the same sentiments as Pheto, arguing that the system has failed to live up to expectations. “It is a good initiative but it has teething problems, for example our stadiums do not have ticket reading machines, which means manual services are still needed,” Mogomotsi said. Nevertheless, Mogomotsi expressed optimism that the league will resort to e-ticketing when resources permit.
The e-ticketing is used in developed countries where the network is good and the gadgets at stadiums are also electronic. Moreover, Mogomotsi explained that the exercise is costly but does not reduce their ticketing challenges. “We thought it was an improved version of what we had.”
Director at Web Tickets Cowell Habana said the project is handled by the BPL management committee. However, he admitted the committee engaged them concerning some teething challenges. “We received those complaints, management committee has engaged us, we agreed that point of sales are not enough and they needed to be increased. They also said we are expensive and we justified our costs,” he said.
Quizzed on the recent game between Rollers and Black Forest at the national stadium, Habana said, “Let me tell you what happened, clubs requested 3000 tickets to be printed for counter sale. However, the clubs seem to have underestimated the number of tickets that were in demand for the game. If you check out the local market, promoters use our system; we are currently selling tickets for about 34 events right now. How can 34 event managers be wrong?” wondered Habana.
Stanbic Bank Botswana this week injected P3 600 000 into BTC premiership giants Township Rollers FC. The seven-figure deal is expected to cover three-seasons starting from 2016 until 2019.
The sponsorship was officially unveiled at Stanbic Bank Piazza in Gaborone on Tuesday. Announcing the partnership between the commercial bank and premier league reigning champions, Stanbic Bank Head of Customer Channels, Calistas Chijoro said the Bank is further reinforcing its commitment to sports development through the sponsorship.
Chijoro explained that efforts made by Stanbic are aimed at cultivating a culture of partnership and collaboration, adding that for a business organisation to bloosm, it needs to develop strong relationships. Addressing football stakeholders at the glitzy sponsorship launch ceremony Chijoro said they were particularly delighted to be shaking hands with one of the most successful football clubs in the country. “We seek to establish mutually-beneficial relationships with such entities, as we continue to empower and nurture sustainable development,” Chijoro said.
Chijoro described Township Rollers as the best football club in the country, for it has won 13 Botswana Premier League titles, five Kabelano Charity Cups and one Mascom Top 8 title. It has also participated in continental cup competitions. Chijoro said that Mapalastina have over 180 000 registered supporters and a large pool of followers on social media. “This is one of the best supported teams the country has and probably the only one.”
Mapalastina were given a word of caution by the Bank official to always stick together through thick and thin in order to stay relevant “The sky is the limit, there is still a lot to achieve out there, take your achievements to a whole new level, do not be comfortable in your current state, continue dreaming.”Chijoro pleaded with the team to utilise the funds wisely. “You are in a privileged position, plant a seed now, bearing in mind that in the future you will be harvesting from the same tree.” For his part, Rollers Chairman Jagdish Shah said Mapalastina are more than happy to open doors for Stanbic Bank, adding that their hopes are to see the partnership grow in years to come.
“I welcome this gesture with open hands, I believe it will also motivate other companies to support local football in the country, I believe Botswana Football Association (BFA) and BPL will be proud too.” Roller also enjoy fruitful partnerships with Builders Mart, JB Sports, Cresta Lodge, Liberty, Shield, Umbro and Jack’s Gym.
The highly anticipated Premier League play off game between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers, which was expected to conclude the controversial 2015/2016 season is no longer on, according to Chiefs’ spokesperson, Clifford Mogomotsi.
Mogomotsi told BG Sport that they have since written to the Botswana Football Association on the matter.The association has however not confirmed the new development at the time of going to press.Early this week, the Kgatleng giants who were prematurely and temporarily crowned the league champions a few months back, were running helter-skelter in a desperate bid to assemble a competitive squad to face the might of Rollers this Saturday.
As things stand, Chiefs are currently dealing with crippling knocks and injuries in their camp, a development that has further complicated their situation. According to Magosi mouthpiece Clifford Mogomotsi, about eight of the team players are carrying injuries. “These players include Ontse Ntesa, Jackey Mothatego, Thato Kebue, Arnold Mampori amongst others,” Mogomotsi said.
Influential players that were instrumental in challenging for the 2015/16 titles have also moved on to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Magosi’s prolific striker Lemponye Tshireletso who was without a contract has recently decamped to the rivals Township Rollers. Likewise creative playmaker, Tendai Nyumasi has joined the now elite outfit, Orapa United. Atang Mmualefhi has joined Jwaneng Galaxy, further dealing a crushing blow to Magosi. As if that was not enough, the team’s structural integrity suffered the loss of their experienced headcoach, Mike Sithole, who has replaced Philane Mabena at the Debswana backed, Jwaneng Galaxy. The vacuum left by Sithole now sees former Magosi player, Michel Mogaladi, likely to lead the technical department.
At a recently launched friendly tournament, dubbed 50/50 Ditsala charity cup held in Tlokweng, the multiple league champions reportedly struggled to raise a competitive team. Some Magosi players that BG Sport spoke to on conditions of anonymity expressed frustration over the situation. The anxiety currently engulfing the team has seen training camps failing.
Former Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers midfield maestro Dirang Moloi has confirmed his retirement from local football this week.
In a brief interview, on the sidelines of the recent 50/50 Ditsala charity tournament held in Tlokweng, Moloi revealed that he was now retired from local football, dashing the hopes of local supporters who had hoped to see him return to the pitch this coming season. Nevertheless, Dirang could not go into details about his premature retirement from the sport.
“I have retired from local football and it seems like Batswana are not satisfied with it but I have given them more than 10 years of my talent. I feel my legs are getting slow now. I have played most of my career as a target for defenders, so I guess the hard tackles I have received have taken their toll on me,” said the skillful 31-year old who has dazzled local football supporters with his skill and finesse since 2006.
Meanwhile, Moloi’s older brother, Pontsho who recently retired from the sport said he was not sure whether he would be part of the upcoming controversial play-off fixture between Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs slated for Francistown on 23rd July. The fixture was set by the Botswana Football Association last week in order to conclude the 2015/16-beMOBILE Premiership.
“I am not sure of my role in that fixture, as you can see I am now fat and I have not played in a long time but we will see what transpires when the time comes.” Moloi also revealed that he expects to be offered a position in the Mochudi Centre Chiefs administration. However, he could not disclose the exact position he is likely to be offered. Moloi was honoured for his achievements in football during the recent 50/50 Ditsala tournament.
The management of Township Rollers is not relenting on their course to seek the intervention of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in their case that saw them lose ten points and have their player Ofentse Nato declared a defaulter.
This is despite the rolecent ruling by the BFA National Disciplinary Committee that Township Rollers be reimbursed seven of the points deducted from them by Botswana Premier League chairperson Rapula Okaile. The BFA NDC recently reversed Rollers’ seven points citing that acting BPL chairman Okaile acted outside his powers to dock Rollers 10 points as punishment without taking the latter through a hearing. However, the committee maintained that Nato was still a defaulter and ruled that only three points be deducted and P1000 be paid within 14 days.
Township Rollers’ spokesperson Phempheretlhe Pheto said the latest development will however not make them withdraw their case in Switzerland. “NDC is saying Nato is a defaulter and we think we have registered Nato properly so we are not going to drop this case despite NDC’s ruling,” Pheto said. The NDC ruling also slapped Okaile with charges after the latter issued directives that Rollers should be docked ten points in the process pronouncing Mochudi Centre Chiefs as champions, which action according to NDC was prejudicial to BFA reputation.
The NDC was this week expected to send Okaile a letter requesting him to show cause why disciplinary action cannot be taken against him in respect of the recent order to dock Rollers ten points instead of three.Rollers have since appointed Johan Van Gaalen to be their representative in the case before CAS following a directive from the international court’s Deputy Secretary General William Sternheimer. On May 6, Sternheimer requested that Rollers nominate an arbitrator chosen from the CAS list and an opportunity to bring their own legal representative if they were not satisfied with the list they were given.
Choosing an arbitrator would complete Rollers’ appeal. The club was given three days after receipt of the letter to have chosen their lawyer, and Paul Mitchel - Ofentse Nato’s agent - recommended Van Gaalen to Rollers’ management.Rollers club financier Jagdish Shah and club secretary general Khumo Masonya have since been to South Africa to meet the world’s top sports lawyer. Pheto confirmed that they had identified their representative who would fight in their corner in Lausanne, Switzerland, but refused to confirm the identity of the lawyer.
Van Gaalen specialises in sports, entertainment and labour law and has in the past handled high profile cases. He is currently a member of FIFPRO legal advisory committee and mostly works with football players’ agents. Last week CAS was expected to announce the date for Rollers’ hearing but instead they requested for Gilport’s heads of argument. By press time it was not yet clear whether Gilport had submitted as per CAS request.
Township Rollers are the 2015/16 beMOBILE premier league champions. This is until the disciplinary procedures relating to all outstanding protests are concluded.
The National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) made this bold decision earlier today (Friday). The announcement was made by NDCsecretary Billy Sekgororoane following protest from Rollers.
The committee found that the Premier League Acting Chairman Rapula Okaile usurped powers of the Botswana Premier League Disciplinary Committee by unilaterally pronouncing that punishment should be made prior to giving the Gaborone giants a hearing. “The Acting Chairman’s decision is set aside and is of no force. The protests by Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Police XI and Miscellaneous FC are referred back for a hearing by the DC of the BPL within 7 days from today’s date,” the judgement states.
“The Final BPL log standings shall only be released after the protest procedures in relation to the process mentioned in the above has been concluded. The decision means Township Rollers are the champions with 70 points.”