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.
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.”
Mascom Top 8 final too big for referee Derrick Marks?
Referee Derrick Marks was not only the centre man on the pitch but was also the centre of controversy when he made questionable decisions in the early and late stages of the fiercely fought Mascom Top 8 final clash between familiar foes Township Rollers and Orapa United late Saturday afternoon at the Obed Chilume Stadium in Francistown.
Orapa United were eventually crowned the Season 9 champions after winning 4-3 on penalties following a 1-all stalemate in 120 minutes of scintillating football, but Township Rollers may feel hard done by two second half decisions where referee Marks denied them what was a clear goal by Tumisang Teenage Orebonye while a clear penalty incident was also shrugged off by the referee after Tlhalefang Molebatsi was blatantly tripped inside the box.
STORY BY JOE-BROWN TLHASELO
As if the refereeing blunders against Rollers were not enough, Orapa United too, looked to have sealed the game in the 111th minute when Mbatshi Elias broke away and rolled the ball past substitute goalkeeper Wagarre Dikago but the goal was controversially ruled out by Marks after the linesman on the far eastern end erroneously flagged for offside what was a legitimate goal.
Earlier in the first half, Rollers’ 37th minute goal could only be celebrated in the 42nd minute after the referee had ruled it out after he erroneously adjudged Orebonye to have fouled United’s defender Thabang Mosige who had clearly collided with his own goalkeeper Lesenya Malapela. After consultation with fourth official Tshepo Gobagoba, the goal was allowed to stand but after a protesting Edwin Moalosi of Rollers was given a yellow card for dissent following his verbal attack on referee Mark for his mistake.
Incidentally, Marks was among the nominiees for Referee of the Tournament Award which was later given to Gobagoba. Had it not been for the blunders he made in the final, which was deservedly awarded to him, Marks would have easily won the award. In the end, his blunders did not really dent that much, what will go down as one of the best finals of the Mascom Top 8.
The first goal of the match was scored in the 33rd minute after a defensive blunder by Rollers allowed Mbatshi Ellias to speed off and go face to face with Dambe whom he beat to give The Ostritches the much-needed lead. Rollers had fairly dominated the game especially in the first 30 minutes of the game, and the goal by United came as the much-needed morale boost, allowing them to start threats of their own until recess.
In the end, it was deja vu for Rollers who similarly lost the 2014 final to BDF XI on penalties after another 1-1 stalemate. Yet, in truth, the fitness of Rollers players will be questioned as the team obviously lost steam in the latter stages of the game. It got worse when both Kabelo Dambe and Ofentse Nato forced their bench to make unplanned substitutions due to injuries.
The win by United meant that the diamond-mining town outfit joined the three other sides to have won the Mascom Top 8 twice. Gaborone United, Jwaneng Galaxy and Rollers have each won the competition twice while BDF XI won the other. The Ostriches’ victory also means Mogomotsi Teenage Mpote becomes only the second local coach to win the Mascom Top 8 after David Bright won it with Gaborone United in Season 2 of the competition back in 2013, the first time the final was played in Francistown..
Mpote, who was named Coach of the Tournament, has thanked Fate for his victory, conceding that when the game reached the penalty shoot-out stage, he left everything to Chance. “I don’t coach my players for penalty shoot-outs, it is usually up to them how they apply themselves on the occasion, and I am glad after they missed their chances during the match, they did well in converting the penalties,” he said after the match. Rollers coach Frank Nuttall congratulated Mpote and regretted that only the penalty shoot out denied them the victory when they had more chances in the game than their opponents.
His captain Simisani Mathumo missed the first penalty for Rollers when he shot straight down the post and Malapela saved. United’s Gofaone Mabaya also had his shot saved by Dikago with Rollers’ Orebonye, who was named Man of The Match, becoming the first player to score during the shoot-out. But they lost the P1.4 million prize when their shining young star, Onkarabile Ratanang blew his kick over the bar as United would go on to score all their remaining balls. At exactly 18:55, Mothusi Johnson took the P1.4 million kick and coolly converted to send the Orapa United into a frenzy.
1.Kabelo Dambe 19. Kamogelo Matsabu 21. Kaone Vanderwesthuizen 5. Simisani Mathumo
6. Onkarabile Ratanang 20. Ofentse Nato 24. Mothusi Cooper 7. Edwin Moalosi 17. Tlhalefo Molebatsi 18. Tumisang Orebonye 28. Motsholetsi Sikele
Head Coach: Frank Nuttall
16. Lesenya Malapela 5.Mpho Kgaswane 18. Mothusi Johnson 3. Mooketsi Hlabano 66. Thabang Mosige 20. Tapiwa Nyamanjiva 17. Gofaone Mabaya 94. Allen Ndodole 13. Omaatla Kebatho 9.Mbatshi Ellias 10. Onkabetse Makgantai
COACH: Mogomotsi Mpote
Player of the Tournament: Kamogelo Matsabu
Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Lesenya Malapela
Top Goalscorer: Tumisang Orebonye
Best Coach: Teenage Mpote
Best Referee: Tshepo Gobagoba
Assistant Referee: Tilolo Molefhe