BTC premiership outfit Extension Gunners welcomes the menacing Sharps Shooting Stars at Lobatse Stadium this coming Saturday.
The match between Mapantsola a Peleng and Bafana ba Zola promises to dish out nothing short of the thrills and spills of football at whistle blow. Sharps, under the watchful eye of coach, Raizor Tsatsilebe has been a pain in the neck for most premier league teams.
In fact, after nine games, Sharps is perched near the top of the log standing, appearing all-comfortable in position three and admiring log leaders Township Rollers and second placed Orapa United.
Having been promoted to the elite league last season, Sharps is undoubtedly shaking waves. They managed to finish the 2017/18 season amongst the top 8 teams, that earned them automatic promotion to the popular Mascom Top 8 tournament at first try.
Fast-forward to the 2018/19 season, Sharps only tasted defeat at the hands of defending champions, Rollers in week 4 of the league fixtures. This past weekend, Sharps served BDF XI its first ever loss since the start of the season. A cold and brutal 3-0 defeat.
When Bafana ba Zola walk into Lobatse Stadium, it will be a scary affair given the support base of Gunners when in home ground. Anything can happen on the day. However it remains to be seen if Sharps have the guts to continue the upsets they have been throwing around town.
Gunners on the other hand is also monitoring the situation very closely, it does not look all bad for the Peleng giants. Gunners is equally capable of spoiling Sharps’ little party by humbling the fast-paced team with a convincing victory. They are expected to come into the Saturday game still in jovial mood after their win against Black Forest this past weekend.
Mapantsola are on position six of the log standings after game nine with 16 points. Coach Enos Mmesi of Gunners knows exactly what is at stake, losing points while at home ground might come back to haunt them in future. So far Gunners have lost three games and drew one.
A loss against Sharps can only complicate matters for Gunners given that they are scheduled to meet another success hungry Jwaneng Galaxy in week 11.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.
Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.
“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.
Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.
“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.
Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.
“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.
Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe. No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.
Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.
However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”
Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.
However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.