The glitzy 2016/17 BTC Premiership awards will be held tonight( Friday) at the GICC in Gaborone. Among the list of categories and impressive nominations the best goal keeper of the year is arguably the most intriguing.
The nominees for best goalkeeper of the season were the last to be released after the Botswana Premier League omitted to include them. The three nominees are Kabelo Dambe (Township Rollers), Antony Gouws (Jwaneng Galaxy) and Goitseone Phoko (Gaborone United). However the three nominees have all had their moments but the category is not without controversy. Following a blockbuster BPL season, there was plenty of both established and emerging talent to choose from. Local football pundits and supporters would argue that there were a lot of brilliant individual performances especially in the goalkeeping department.
A case in point is experienced Kabelo Dambe who has had a rather average season. Injury prone Dambe’s season was highly characterised by a shoulder injury, and he missed a lot of important games against Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Gaborone United and BDF XI.The lanky former Platinum Stars goal minder has however been criticised for his failures to cut crosses in the 18-yard area. This weakness on Dambe’s part was repeated this season.
Although he pitched up during the last lap of the season, Dambe has almost equally shared the goalpost with young Keagile Kgosipula. However Dambe’s chief competitor Mwampule Masule has also had a considerable share of game time.
Another surprise nomination is Gaborone United’s agile last line of defence, Goitseone Phoko who was predominantly on recovery mode this season. The award-winning goalkeeper spent almost a year without his gloves while nursing a protracted knee injury.
Phoko has also had a mixed season when he committed rather silly mistakes, costing his side valuable points against Orapa United and BDF XI in the first leg. Phoko caused a stir among GU supporters as he continued to fumble in an area which was once his comfort zone.Midway into the Season Phoko was recovering and had a very brilliant second leg of the 2016/17 season and managed so make outstanding saves against a teething Black Forest attacks. Jwaneng Galaxy’s young goal minder, Anthony Gouws is the third nominee and comes as no surprise. Gouws was top notch this season and adjusted to the game quickly avoiding conceding early goals.Gouws was able to command his backline with every game thus limiting his own mistakes; the marvelous shot stopper has a big match temperament having put his gloves to test late in the season against Mochudi Centre Chiefs at Molepolole Sports Complex.
His stellar performance has however earned him a national team call up.
Another revelation for the past season that was unheeded is Miscellaneous’ outstanding goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga. His reflexes were like those of a cat the entire season as he meticulously stopped highflying shots with the tips of his fingers.
Although there is room to improve his positioning, the young lad always made sure he springs up to catch every ball that comes his way. He has since caught the eye of South African teams, with the First Division Side Mbombela United FC and an unnamed PSL club currently looking for his service.
Another outstanding talent is Katlego Mbise who was signed by Extension Gunners from Gilport Lions during the January transfer window. Mbise moved with his exceptional form. He was very instrumental in the Peleng outfit’s second round performance, helping them finish in the top-four bracket after Michael Pepukani left a mess behind the posts.
With reflexes like lightning, Michael James of Black Forest had a season to savor. He started his season against a marauding Township Rollers and conceded two reckless goals. He however picked himself up and produced a good performance the whole season.
James had the safe hands that couldn’t be breached often. He stood out in their 2-2 draw against Gaborone United in the second leg, denying Tumisang Orebonye what seemed like an obvious goal. The cat in James also pitched up in the first round against Mochudi Centre Chiefs keeping a clean sheet against the Kgatleng-based side.
The time is now for veteran coach Boyo ‘Oris’ Radipotsane. The experienced local coach has found himself in daunting position of leading the Zebras in their 2017 COSAFA Castle cup campaign against Zambia this Saturday.
The game, scheduled for Moruleng, South Africa, will give the caretaker coach an opportunity to prove himself after moving through the ranks in BFA structures. Radipotsane, a prominent and beloved figure in local football circles, has managed the National under 17, 20 and 23 development teams.
However Radipotsane has a torrid task of leading the Zebras to their first ever COSAFA Castle Cup triumph after departed British coach Peter James Butler failed to bring the highly sought after cup to the long suffering Zebras supporters.
Radipotsane may be dubbed as a development coach, more similar to his predecessor Peter Butler. Nonetheless the coach has proven that his tactical cognizance is unmatched, having proven to work with limited resources. Previously, Radipotsane managed shock the local football fraternity by leading Motlakase Power Dynamos of Palapye to the Coca Cola Cup final in 2011.
Known for his soft-spoken demeanor and trademark hoarse voice, Radipotsane has proven to be a motivator having pulled legendary upset victories against more fancied rivals with his beloved Motlakase. Radipotsane and Motlakase have claimed famous scalps including Gaborone United, BDF XI and Uniao Flamingo Santos.
The former Zebras and Township Rollers player is a highly tactical mentor, he disguises as one of the most cautious coaches in the country with an Italian philosophy of starting the ball from the back, modestly shying away from conceding.
Having assumed his role as assistant Coach of the Zebras in 2015 supporters have always adjudicated the coach as a laidback and voiceless assistant, who could not aid Butler when the chips are down and some believe his relationship is not at a stage of owning the players hearts.
The COSAFA Cup and the upcoming CHAN tournament will come about as Radipotsane’s litmus test, a good performance in both tournaments will mean the hoarse voiced coach earns himself a full time contract as the Zebras coach.
BTC premiership outfit Police XI this week announced the departure of their headcoach Maitumelo ‘Junior’ Letlaamoreng. Former Police XI Isaiah 'Sthanda' Mogwadi will replace Letlaamoreng with immediate effect. Letlaamoreng mentored the Jungle Kings for the majority of the 2016/17 season when the state backed outfit mostly hovered in the middle of the log standings. According to a press statement from Police XI, Sthanda, who helped Police gain promotion to the premier league a few seasons ago, will be assisted by former national team player Ndiyapo Letsholathebe and Summer Ncube. The club and Letlamoreng mutually agreed recently to part ways in the best interest of the team. He became police headcoach following the retirement of Mogwadi.
The 1-0 loss BTC premiership outfit Mochudi Centre Chiefs suffered at the hands of rival league newbies Jwaneng Galaxy, provided a peep into their tumultuous 2016/17 season campaign so far. For the Kgatleng giants the 2016/17 season has been a long and tedious campaign. The limping league giants have enjoyed relatively premiership success in the past 17 years but Magosi are now in danger of finishing out of the top 8 for the first time in recent history.
In the past decade, the Kgatleng outfit has won four championships and twice participated in African safari competitions including the Champions League. Chiefs are currently in position 8 after 20 games having lost and won seven games including six draws.It was not only on the pitch that Chiefs found success, as the Kgatleng giants produced and sold star players abroad with strikers Jarome Ramatlhakwane and midfielder Dirang Moloi as recent examples. However head coach Bongani Mafu’s team has huffed and puffed to grind results and systemetically lost to premier league rookies Black Forest and relative newcomers Jwaneng Galaxy FC. This week, sources close to Magosi said a Top 8 finish will be close to a miracle for the Kgatleng outfit who might even find themslves warding off relegation with only nine games until the season concludes. “Senior players at the team are hardly attending training sessions due to delayed payments. Players cannot train on a full time basis because management is failing to honour the promises they made,” a source who prefers anonymity said.
“In the process this has only left few players who hardly feature in their games turning-up for training a development that has put their tactician Bongani Mafu between a rock and a hard place especially during match days as far as team selection is concerned.” Further reports are that some senior players only turn-up hours before kickoff at games, which allegedly forces the Zimbabwean gaffer, Mafu to select them soley based on their experience.
To make matters worse since parting ways with their financiers the Jamali family, Chiefs management have been moving from pillar to post in search of a training ground. Another source whispered that there is internal wrangling within team management, which has only made matters worse for the Kgatleng outfit.
Nevertheless, Magosi spokesperson recently said they will do everything to avoid relegation and finish in the Top 8. “Injuries have done us no favours this season, let alone financial issues which we are faced with. We had potential investors in December whom we had already started negotiating with but when they learnt of our court cases, they asked us to put our house in order first,” Mogomotsi said this week.
With nine games left for the BTC Premiership season to end Mochudi Centre Chiefs are placed on 8th spot with 27 points equal to Gaborone United and Police XI.
BTC premiership minnows Mahalapye United Hotspurs are currently in a rut as they are placed last in the 2016/17 log-standings after losing 1-0 to Gilport Lions this past weekend. To survive relegation Hotspurs must win all their remaining eight games, which is a lot to ask for any team. After 21 games the Mahalapye lads are currently in position 16 with only three wins five draws and 13 losses.However, Hotspurs spokesperson Boniface Disho insists that his team still has a fighting chance despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them.
“The truth of the matter is that we are not happy about our current position. No team wants to be in such a position and we are trying to survive relegation by all means,” an optimistic Disho said, adding that the standard of their football is good despite failing to use their chances to score.
“We can manage five draws even if we do not have a head-coach sitting at the bench during the game.” The team has been without a headcoach for most of the season with the goalkeeper coach as a stand in. Disho said the No. 1 candidate to takeover the team is experienced coach Maxwell Moyo who is often spotted at the side-lines of Hotspurs’ games. “We could have hired Moyo by now but the process is complicated and taking too long. We hired a consultant for the job but he has failed to deliver so we have to start all over again.”
Disho said the team also must contend with the cost of running the team, which is way higher that the grant they receive from the Botswana Premier League. “It is hard for us to attract a sponsor as Hotspurs remain a community team. We appeal to our supporters to attend games in larger numbers especially when we play at our home ground in Serowe.” Disho said they need team supporters to band together and buy replica jerseys to supplement the team’s income. In other matters Disho lamented what he deems as appalling refereeing standards in the Botswana Premier League. He said league referees have a negative attitude towards teams that are struggling. Hotspurs are currently joined by Green Lovers at position 15 and Nico United at 14th in the relegation Zone. The Mahalapye outfit faces Sankoyo Bush Bucks in their next fixture.
A dark cloud continues to hover over women’s football league. The league is currently halted and details are still hazy as to who accounts for this atrocity.
In fact the current Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Mclean Letshwiti used the advancement of women football and development structures as part of his campaign. Moreover, the women’s league continues to be shrouded in controversies while both the BFA and the Women National Executive Committee watch indifferently.
A few years ago when the women league was introduced, many applauded the initiative as it was seen as a positive move towards sports development that will enable active women participation in football.However, all efforts directed towards ensuring that women football is functional seem to be hitting a snag. The situation is worrisome and does not show any signs of improvement in future. Early this year, the women super league suffered a blow when the league was called to an abrupt stop due towhat was said to be financial constraints weighing heavily on the league. Women league Vice Chairperson Otukile Moruakgomo, says four teams have written to say that they cannot continue with the league due to insufficient funds.
The committee then summoned all other participating teams and realised that the situation was affecting all teams. It was then resolved that the league be suspended indefinitely. The teams are said to have requested at the time to engage the Women National Executive Committee (NEC) on the matter but to date the issue is still pending.
On behalf of BFA, Tumo Mpatane the Association’s spokesperson said the women league representatives have failed to provide them with a full report as to why the league is currently not running. “We do not have a full understanding of what is happening, we have asked for a report from the chairperson of the women’s league,” Mpatane said.
When brought to speed about reports that the league was financially constrained, Mpatane explained that the women league was running without a sponsor and did not receive any grant from FIFA either. He noted that women football league structures did not conform to those of FIFA and thus, they are not able to receive grants from the international football governing body.
Nevertheless, he has assured that they are working around the clock to ensure that women football structures conform to FIFA’s rules and regulations. He also promised that the intention is to have the league running again next season. Additionally, the matter has hit hard on local teams and some of them have now begun pointing fingers while others remain hopeless.
The situation has seen players abstain from the game for quite some time now while others are still in nail biting situations to try and survive the hard times. Should this matter remain unattended, the women national team will also be affected in the process. Efforts to communicate with the Women NEC all proved futile before going to print.
The Mascom Top 8 Cup, ‘Tse Di Tona’ knockout tournament has undoubtedly brought a touch of both glitz and glamour to local top-flight football.
The thrill and spills witnessed during the Mascom Top 8 final clash between Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United over the weekend was the sort of high stakes football game local supporters have been yearning for. Nevertheless there have been doubts on whether the mobile phone service producer will return as Top 8 sponsors following the conclusion of their contract with the Botswana Football Association.
Nevertheless, the Saturday game may definitely keep the sponsors on board as Francistown Sports Complex was filled with many supporters who came to witness history as Jwaneng Galaxy, who came into the game as underdogs, humiliated the defending Champions Orapa United to bag the P1.2 Million prize money.
It is evident how the popularity of the tournament has steadily grown and in the process, has become an integral part of the football community. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if the Cup tournament shall continue to be the apple pie of many local football enthusiasts.
The contract between Botswana Premier League (BPL) and the title sponsors of the tournament, Mascom, comes to an end this year. Mascom has been sponsoring the tournament since 2011. It remains a mystery whether Mascom will want to renew their contract or not, given the negativity that has surrounded local football.
However, BPL Acting CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang said in an interview this week that they have expressed interest of continuing the partnership through a formal letter. He explained that their contract will elapse shortly after the Mascom Top 8 awards to be hosted sometime in May or June. Ntshinogang noted that for the past six years, they have been enjoying a cordial working relationship with Mascom. “The tournament helped our local teams participate internationally which also assisted our senior national team perform better,” he said.
He said it is through the Mascom Top 8 tournament that local players find the opportunity to showcase their talents outside the premier league. Ntshinogang said they are ready to fasten their belts and look for other alternatives in order to keep the tournament alive, should Mascom decide otherwise. On the other hand, Mascom remained cagey about the sponsorship matter, saying that they are yet to review the past season of the tournament and will share the evaluation with partners, Botswana Premier League.
Bickering within the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee (NEC) looks like the beginning of what is shaping up to be a protracted internal wrangling.
That is until someone in the NEC warring parties quickly taps out of the political chokehold. As things stand within the BFA NEC, brutal Machiavellian tactics including systematic sabotage are expected to be the order of the day. This week BFA Insiders said the seeds of discord between president Maclean Letshwiti and two influential members of the BFA NEC were being sown even before they (current regime) toppled the former regime at last year’s watershed BFA General Assembly.
According to impeccable sources close to the matter, the recent appointment of BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ookeditse Malesu was a calculated move by Letshwiti to use his recruit as a bulwark against any attempt by NEC members to eject him from the plum post. “Letshwiti needed someone who could directly deal with defiant NEC members who are seeking to control both him and the BFA,” said a source, adding that some NEC members were hoping to serve as puppet masters to the president but this has since backfired.
Moreover, the BFA source said like Kitso Kemoeng before him, Malesu will be tasked with dealing with power hungry NEC members and provide some sort of protection to the BFA president. However, well known BFA king makers who allegedly helped to orchestrate Letshwiti’s quick rise to power, will stop at nothing to see their own creation deposed from Lekidi.
“The idea was to dispose of Sebego and bring in their own candidate being Letshwiti. However, things have since played out differently as Letshwiti has his own ideas on where he wants to see the association go.” The source explained that Letshwiti should anticipate stressful NEC meetings where he is likely to ward off ‘motions of no confidence’ at every corner. “The problem with the BFA is that politicians meddle in the secretariat, to the extent that they event sign cheques and approve trips around the country.”
The source with close ties to the BFA argued that the association’s secretariat should have been running autonomously without NEC members meddling in its operational matters.
“This is why the former CEO had to leave because he stood up to some of these irregularities. This is what FIFA is advocating as now its own secretariat is fully autonomous from the council.” The source said the high-ranking NEC members will ensure that Letshwiti fails by sabotaging him at every opportunity. “This will be their common goal unfortunately. Their ultimate goal should be football but this will not be the case. In this situation, there will be no new ideas generated on how to improve football as most of them lack business background”
One of the best footballers to ever come out of Botswana, Tumie Duiker has reunited with his former team Extension Gunners as assistant coach. Duiker, the most influential local player of the 1990s has already assisted Gunners headcoach Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare in several recent games.
The former national team striker was on duty when Gunners succumbed 1-0 to Gaborone United at the Lobatse sports complex this past weekend. In an interview this week, Gunners spokesperson, Edwin Mabapa confirmed that the former Tafic player has joined the Peleng outfit’s technical team as assistant coach.
“He has been our player before and he is bringing a lot of experience to the team,” Mabapa said, adding that Duiker was their number one player during Gunners’ golden years between 1992 and 1993. Nevertheless, Mabapa said Duiker’s arrival at Gunners has elicited mixed reactions from supporters as the legendary striker is still proving himself as a coach.
Mabapa said they are willing to give their former talisman an opportunity to prove himself to the team. Duiker formerly coached National First Division outfit, Happy Hearts.
The Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s search for a new Technical Director (TD) is at an advanced stage, with the local body weighing more options from FIFA and IOC concerning salary payments.
The position fell vacant when the association did not renew the outgoing TD’s contract which elapsed in February. The association has recently interviewed potential candidates from the local market. The new development fuels speculation that national team headcoach Peter Butler wanted people he can control at Lekidi Centre. Butler won battles against his countryman Keith Masters, outgoing TD Benny Kgomela and former technical officer Philemon Makhwengwe.
However, BFA president Maclean Letshwiti this week confirmed that they have found their man already. “Everything is in place it’s just a question of signing,” said Letshwiti. BFA president indicated that the development project they are embarking on is too heavy for local candidates. “There is nobody with enough experience to undertake the project. It’s never been done in Botswana or in Africa,” Letshwiti said. The BFA intends to utilise the FIFA forward programme to get the expert, which means the local association will not be paying salaries and other related expenses for the preferred candidate.
In addition, the BFA president said the difference between him and his predecessor Tebogo Sebego is that they will bring an expert with a Motswana as his /her understudy. Nevertheless, Letshwiti could not be drawn into discussing the identity of the technical expert. Moreover, Letshwiti took time to praise the newly appointed regional TDs who started at their new jobs about two months ago. Meanwhile, Letshwiti agrees with his predecessor that Botswana is not ready to host African football showpiece. “We have to start somewhere, we have to host U20 and women competitions then take it from there.”
In other matters, Letshwiti took a swipe at the embattled BPL CEO Bennett Mamelodi. “He didn’t have to go to court to seek those documents, they were available, and they have been available all this time, all he had to do was just to ask,” Letshwiti said adding that Mamelodi was engaged in delaying tactics. “We are professionals, we know the law, and everybody is entitled to a fair hearing, it’s absolute nonsense. It is unfair to the association.” The BFA president conceded that the association failed to relieve Mamelodi of his duties in a proper manner. “It is going to end very soon because I am doing it right,” stated the BFA president.
Mamelodi has about eight months left to his contract with BPL, the court has however instructed BPL CEO to face disciplinary proceedings conducted by the employer. Letshwiti dismissed allegations that his regime side-lined the Debswana-sponsored leagues because they formed part of Sebego’s campaign team. “I have the best relationship with everybody who serves me”, said BFA president. Though Letshwiti admitted that he does not know football, he however claimed that he brought corporate governance to the association. “Well I won BFA elections but I do not know anything about football. I just said I am going to bring change. I inherited an inefficient way of doing things and I am doing it the right way”, boasted Letshwiti.
The local football governing body is however reported to have agreed to play friendly matches with three different associations during the coming FIFA calendar breaks. BFA president confirmed that he has agreed with other CAF member associations to play the Zebras. Letshwiti has conceded that the broke association is engaging government regarding funding of the proposed matches. BFA president said he has agreed in principle with three association leaders to play friendly matches with the Zebras. “As far as those people are concerned we have agreed, we are just waiting for funding. At presidential level, we have agreed”, Letshwiti explained.