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OFF ROAD BATTLE

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Since 2015 the Toyota Gazoo team has had an iron grip on the marathon Toyota 1000km Desert Race. Having blown away most of their competition including entries from Ford and Nissan, many will expect the Toyota Gazoo team to run away with the title when the 2017 edition of the 1000 km Desert Race commences in Jwaneng mining town this weekend. However, Toyota will have their hands full in the elite FIA class when they go head to head with a new entry in the form of the Elf Renault Duster team.

With Toyota rivals Nissan competing in another off Road event in China, it will be the Elf Duster that will be keeping the Toyota’s in check. However, the dominant Toyota Gazoo team will bring two entries in the FIA class with pilots like South African champions Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie and Giniel de Villiers/Dennis Murphy vying for victory once again.

Johan van Staden and Mike Lawrenson will pilot the fire breathing Renault. However, it is the Toyota team that will be coming with a massive advantage given their experience in the Desert Race. Local motorsport enthusiasts will also be treated to some celebrity, as they will have a chance to see former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers in action. De Villiers is best known for winning the 2009 Dakar Rally with team VW.

The Desert Race, which is the third event of the South African Cross Country series starts with a qualifying race on Friday and concludes on Sunday. Double points will be up for grabs in the weekend marathon race scheduled for Jwaneng and surrounding areas. Class T, for vehicles over four litres and with solid axle rear suspension, is another kettle of fish and this is where most of the action will unfold.

The category has had two different winners on the first two events and only six points separate the first three crews. Meanwhile Class S for cars up to four litres with solid axle rear suspension will also feature fast and furious action. Former South African champion Jannie Visser, with son Chris doing the co-driving in a Toyota Hilux, will revel in the conditions and will be hard to beat.

The qualifying race will start at 13:00 on June 23 and the race at 08:15 on June 24 and 25. Public access to spectator points is free of charge with enthusiasts able to follow the race via the RallySafe app. RallySafe is downloaded free of charge and is compatible with iOS and Android operating systems. The app is user friendly and provides maps, split times and results.

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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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.”

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BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet

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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.

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