With just nine games left in the BTC Premiership 2018/2019 season, teams are flexing their muscles as they want to squeeze themselves into the coveted top eight spot. This weekend the rejuvenated Gaborone United will relish a huge opportunity to step up and maybe find a home in the lucrative top eight bracket.
Moyagolele are currently on position nine with 27 points, one-point shy from their opponent Miscellaneous Sporting Club who are on position eight with just 28 points in their folder. The two BTC Premiership sides cross swords this Friday at the Molepolole Sports Complex at 1900 hours and as anticipated sparks are expected to fly under flood lights.
GU headcoach Philemon Makwengwe is expected to dig deep into his war chest and use the wealth of experience at the Money Machine to his advantage. The likes of Edwin Bonso and Gaopatwe Seosenyeng will be marshalling the center of the defense while Alphonse Modisaotsile will shield his defenders. The much-needed fire power is expected from Rentse Keakabetse, Obonywe Maome and the free scoring Thatayaone Kgamanyane in the midfield.
However, another midfield maestro, Dirang Moloi will be used as a decoy in attack while Jerome Ramatlhakwana will do all in his power to destabilize the defense and take them out of shape. Nonetheless the GU attacks will be under watch with experienced Mponang Mponang expected to lead his side ahead of this encounter. Defenders like Mothata Lucas and Chicco Molefe are expected to keep the dangerous GU attackers at bay.
With Simon Pako Osupile out injured Lynoth Chikuhwa and Bhekuyise Kunene will have to lead the attack for Tse nala, as they want to maintain their top 8 spot until the end of the season. In other fixtures position seven Extension Gunners (29 points) are also in the mid table mix. Mapantsola will take on title contenders Jwaneng Galaxy in Lobatse on Saturday.
Another team involved in this intriguing battle is Sharps Shooting Stars who are not comfortable on position six, the excellent boys welcome log leaders Township Rollers at Molepolole Sports Complex this Sunday.
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.