Township Rollers spokesperson Bafana Pheto says it is not easy to be an established league giant that is Rollers. All teams are after Rollers’ blood, he says.
Speaking ahead of their game against archrivals Mochudi Centre Chiefs (MCC) in Gaborone today, Pheto explained that there is immense pressure on their shoulders that comes with playing underdogs, especially with the league now coming to an end.
“When our opponents prepare for games, they target big teams like us, they want either a win or a draw and this means that the game will be very intense and full of surprises,” he said.
It does not help that Rollers are the defending champions and downing a champion is what most young teams enjoy bragging about to boost their confidence. However, with MCC, it is a different ball game altogether as their rivalry dates back to the olden days.
Pheto said that they face a wounded Chiefs, coming from another tough assignment in the far areas of Chobe. Rollers narrowly defeated Kazungula Fighters in the Orange FA Cup tournament this past weekend.
Pheto said it is because they were playing in a different environment that somehow impacted on their play. He acknowledged that the current team performance was not top notch as they often realize a few downfalls.
Having lost out in defending the Mascom Top 8 trophy, Rollers is hoping to at least win the 2019 league title. Adding to their worries, Pheto said it proves difficult to play the league, cup tournament and honour national team call -ups.
The players, he said often show signs of fatigue, “It is not an excuse and I believe those in charge of fixtures are also chasing their own deadlines. In fact, FIFA says 48 hours rest is enough for players so we should soldier on,” he said.
Rollers is amongst teams that often has a high number of players participating at national team level and with the CHAN qualifiers coming up next week, the likes of Segolame Boy and Tumisang Orebonye will probably be travelling to Seychelles with coach Mogomotsi Mpote.
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.