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Teenage, Razor land at Zebras

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Orapa United and former Township Rollers coach Mogomotsi “Teenage” Mpote is expected to be announced as Zebras caretaker coach by Botswana Football Association (BFA) this week. The former under 23 coach is expected to be assisted by another local Razor Tsatsilebe as they lead the Zebras in a 2019 Afcon qualifier against Angola next month.

The experienced Mpote who has played for the likes of Miscelleneous and Tasc takes over from Major David Bright who was unceremoniously shown the exit at Lekidi recently. After a streak of mixed results and a drastic drop in the FIFA ranking, the veteran coach fell out of favour with his employers at BFA. The Zebras job happens to be one of the hottest seats in local sports with most of its occupants rarely finishing the rest of their tenure. Bright took over from controversial English coach Peter Butler. He was expected to reverse the fortunes of the national team by moving up in the rankings and qualifying for the 2019 Afcon finals.

However, a predominantly ageing and uninspired squad did not help as the Zebras continued to decline. Meanwhile, the national team technical department seems to have been localised since Bright took over and now Mpote. The recently formed Botswana Football Coaches Association (BFCA) decried what they have viewed as favouritism towards foreign coaches.

In a brief interview this week, BFA Chief Executive Officer (BFA) Mfolo Mfolo could neither confirm nor deny whether Mpote will be taking over as caretakers’ coach. The BFA secretariat boss said an announcement was likely to be made on the matter later this week. Meanwhile, the Zebras job has been linked to several names including former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba and former national team and Serbian coach Jelusic Vaseline.

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FUROR OVER BPL FIXTURES

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The BTC Premiership league was this Tuesday thrown into chaos over a fixture between reigning champions Township Rollers and Serowe’s Miscellaneous scheduled for Gaborone.

By Tuesday evening, Miscellaneous Football Club (FC) were still over 370km away in Serowe ahead of their scheduled game against Township Rollers in the Capital city at 1900hrs. By press time, Miscellaneous had confirmed that they would not be honoring their game against Rollers, decrying lack of funds to finance the cross-country trip to Gaborone. The Serowe outfit argued that the fixture was on short notice, which was unfair on their part. According to the Club spokesperson Edwin Ntau, they could not acquire funds for the doomed trip. “If we do arrive in Gaborone on Tuesday evening, that game will be a disaster because we are not ready for it. Botswana Premier League (BPL) is not serious and insulting the sponsor, “a seething Ntau said before cancelling the trip.

Earlier on Tuesday Miscellaneous expressed unhappiness with the Botswana Premier League (BPL) over the change of fixtures last week Thursday. Initially, Miscellaneous says it was to play Notwane in Serowe but to their greatest shock they were suddenly pitted against the defending champions, Rollers in Gaborone. They had now lost home ground advantage and had to travel all the way to Gaborone for the difficult encounter. Ntau questioned the judgement fairness of the BPL following the surprising turn of events.

Ntau claims that they saw the amendments of fixtures communicated on social media and when they questioned BPL CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang and his team, they were assured that they will play Notwane at Serowe Sports Complex. “We were shocked that on Monday the same fixtures of us playing Rollers were still circulating around and when we wrote to BPL, we were told to honour the Tuesday game or there would be consequences,” Ntau said.

Playing Rollers in Gaborone would have meant Miscelleneous played three away games in a row, a sequence of events that would definitely hurt their pockets.Rollers on the other hand, through the club spokesperson, Bafana Pheto said they were equally shocked and not at all happy with BPL. “When we plan, we plan for a certain team and it does not help that nobody is telling us what necessitated the need to change the fixtures,” a baffled Pheto said this week.

It is not clear why the Gaborone United and Rollers game had to be changed from all the games that had to be played in week 23. “Why us, what reasons are there to change the game, we were supposed to play Miscellaneous in Week 30, why drag it to week 23,” he questioned.

Notwane FC chairman, Phillip Tiroyamodimo also said that they wrote back to BPL questioning why they had to change the team they were supposed to play and not only the dates as with other teams but BPL has not bothered to respond. For his part, Boitumelo Nsunge, Chairman of Gaborone United said that they returned from the Mascom Top 8 finals knowing well that they are playing Rollers and were surprised to be given a letter this past Monday instructing them to play Notwane on Thursday.

When responding to the matter, Ntshinogang said that according to their ‘amended’ fixtures, Gaborone United and Township Rollers were not scheduled in week 23. With that, they had to slot them in week 23 given that the senior national team has to prepare for the CAF African Championship of Nations (CHAN) tournament to be played next weekend. With that, there will be no league games played this coming weekend.

However, it remains unclear as to why all the four teams appear to have a copy of fixtures totally different from that of BPL. While Ntshinogang said GU and Rollers had no schedule in week 23, majority believe that GU was to play Rollers and Miscellaneous against Notwane. Ntshinogang went on to say that all clubs were informed of the changes last week Thursday and they expect Miscellaneous to honour the Tuesday game.

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CENTRE CHIEFS FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL

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Tonight at Molepolole Sports Complex, Mochudi Centre Chiefs (MCC) will be given another chance to prove if they have successfully pulled out of the BTC Premiership league relegation zone.

Following months of the relegation threat, the Kgatleng giants managed a limp out of the hot zone a week ago when they collected maximum points against BDF XI.When they play BR Highlanders under floodlights tonight, MCC will need to make a statement; whether they are still skating on thin ice or if the dark clouds have cleared. With only eight games left before the season ends, there is no telling what the future holds for MCC.

While a few years ago, MCC had established themselves as premier league giants and arch rivals to defending champions, Township Rollers, dwindling fortunes have since been causing anxiety at MCC. Even relative league newcomers have come out to humiliate the once mighty Chiefs. Magosi are expected to trot into today’s match without a head coach but instead team General Manager, Jalal Zaahid has been asked to step in temporarily.

This comes after the caretaker coach, Itumeleng Duiker was informed by team management that he will not be coach but can only be on the bench. It is still not yet clear if the new coach will ever come given that the 2018/2019 season is nearing a conclusion. However, the club chairman Raymond Tsheko has since made assurances that the new coach is on his way. Meanwhile, Mahalapye outfit BR Highlanders, is in no position to pull out the sympathy card as they cannot afford to be comfortable, only six points separates them from 13th placed MCC. BR Highlanders, Coach Blessing Moyo knows better that he cannot afford to return to the dusty grounds when he was only promoted this season.

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