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Rollers feeling the pressure

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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.

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Volleyball coach explains selection of national team

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Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) national team coach Kabo Ntshinogang says winning a league performance award does not guarantee national team call up.

Ntshinogang was responding to complaints made by some players recently that the national team squad is decided on favoritism and not merit. To their surprise, some players that were honored for exceptional play in the 2018 Mascom league were missing from the preliminary national team list that was released by the federation recently. The national team is preparing for the All Africa games qualifiers to be held in Mozambique later this month.

“Yes it is true, not all who were honored by Mascom last year made it into the team. Winning an award does not book a seat in the national team, a lot of things go into being selected as national team material,” Ntshinogang said this week.

The coach in charge of the ladies’ team explained that in some instances, a player can score many points in one particular game while a more talented player might have been absent on the day.
That, he said could make other talented players fail to collect points and catch up, as every game is different.

“We use the league to gauge performance however, we can never all agree on who is best suited a place in the national team. Difference in opinions will always come in and perhaps provide a healthy debate,” the coach said.

Ntshinogang added that if he indeed used favoritism to pick his team then his side of Mafolofolo Club would be dominating the list. Nevertheless, Kutlwano players are the ones with a large number of players at national team level. On the men side, assistant coach Kealeboga Mmekwane said that contrary to negative reports he came across, Kesaobaka Lenkopane of BDF XI, who was the 2018 league best setter has been invited to training but has not showed up yet.

“He was omitted from the list yes but we have since contacted his coach that the player should join the national team during training,” he said. Mmekwane continued to note that another omitted name was Meffery Chindumbo who is a foreigner and could not be called for national team duty. He revealed that they look into matters such as height, skill and the defence ability when they select their preferred team.

He explained that it was hard picking names and they were forced to rely on past experiences. “There is no league and we had to think hard to come up with a competitive team,” he said. For their first training, Mmekwane noted that the players are all a bit rusty as they are returning from a long break, saying some have even gained weight. He however expressed confidence that they will qualify for the games as they have over the years established themselves as a powerhouse in the region.

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Marape increases Botswana’s medal tally

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Women Fide Master (WFM) Naledi Marape dazzled at the just ended Zone 4.3 championships held in Madagascar. She brought home a bronze medal.

The 2019 edition was the young Marape’s second zonal competition having finished on 5th position in Mozambique last year. Nevertheless, she emerged all hell bent to leave an impressive mark in Madagascar as she defeated highly ranked players to increase Botswana ‘s medal tally.

Marape emulated winning ways of Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis who finished in second position, grabbing a silver medal. Francis returned to the Chessboard following a short break from the game, itching to defend her 2018 bronze medal. She would however go up the ranks and give way for the developing star that is Marape.

It seems Marape drew inspiration from the experienced side of Francis and rightly put her foot down. The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Kutlwano Tatolo explained that Marape is actually chasing her first Olympiad appearance next year.

“She has been doing well and one of the best youth players, however, competition is very stiff and she will need to work extra hard to improve her game,” she said. Tatolo described Marape as a player still full of energy and thirsty for success saying her level of growth in the game was promising.

However, Marape began the year on a low note and actually lost out on forming part of the ten Metropolitan Championships ladies’ finalists, thus the urge to keep busy drove her to international excellence.

The BCF had sent only one female representative to Madagascar however, Marape and another youth side in Women Candidate Master (WCM) Natalie Banda sponsored themselves to attend the zonal competition. Banda, who was making a debut at the tournament, finished in an impressive 8th position and she was given a trophy for being the youngest participant at the tournament.

Meanwhile, Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho who recently won the Metropolitan championship failed to defend his 2018 silver medal in the open section but instead dropped to position 13.
His counterpart International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse, finished on the 6th place.

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