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All eyes on Tsotso Ngele tonight

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Coach Major David Bright and goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe are convinced that given enough game time and opportunity, Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele could prove  to be the game changer in tonight’s encounter between Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout final.

Botswana’s lone ranger in South African premier league is expected to feature for his mega rich outfit Mamelodi Sundowns as they meet their feared rivals from Soweto at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Ngele rose to stardom under this cup when he scored twice in Mbombela after coming on as a substitute for Platinum Stars when they beat Orlando Pirates. After his two late goals scored in the 79th and 88 minutes, big clubs began jostling for his signature with Mamelodi Sundowns becoming his final destination.

In the last season he featured in the final for his former club against Supersport United but they lost 3-2. In that final he scored the second goal after coming in as a substitute. His form in the past competitions has always left many football fans asking for more.

In the recent semi-finals against Free State Stars he opened the scoring floodgates before making two assists in their 6-1 memorable victory. Pitso Mosimane will be looking to the highly technically-gifted Botswana’s bogeyman to replicate his yesteryear’s form that saw Platinum Stars lifting the coveted trophy and breaking the hearts of Pirates supporters.

Against Chiefs, Mosimane is facing his longtime friend whom he had previously employed as his assistant during his reign as Bafana Bafana coach. Steve Kompela is under pressure to win silverware for his glamour club which has broken its old culture of not believing in South African local coaches.

Kompela stumbled in the MTN 8 final when his club was white-washed by the youthful Ajax Cape Town side in September. Another loss would certainly reduce his days at Naturena. Despite Sundowns boasting equally talented stars, Ngele remains the most influential man and could prove to be the difference tonight.

He knows and understands the taste of success in this particular competition already at individual level. He won Telkom Player of the Tournament and a cool R200 000 price in the process. He was the second Motswana to win the coveted prize after Joel Mogorosi had won it with Bloemfontein Celtic after leading it to victory against the same Sundowns in the finals.

Ngele’s former teammate at Platinum Stars Kabelo Dambe who was present in both finals when they won in Mbombela and when they lost against Supersport United, feels that if Ngele could be given enough game time he will punish Kaizer Chiefs. Dambe is now with Township Rollers. “He is a talented player. If given enough playing time against Chiefs he will score. He must not be brought in when the game is already dead. He needs time to read the game and know where to exploit the situation,” he said.

Major David Bright, currently coaching first division outfit Thanda Royal Zulu in South Africa, also shares the sentiments. “It will depend on how Pitso wants to use him. He is very skillful he will score goals if he can play him alongside Hlompho Kekana and Bongani Zungu who will mark and protect him so that he plays behind false No.9,” Bright told Sun Sports from his home base in Richards Bay, Kwazulu Natal.

Tsotso, Botswana’s brightest star, is expected to keep supporters on the edge of their seats with his vast skills. A lot will be itching for a tussle between Tsotso and the stubborn Chiefs defence manned by the towering Eric Mothoho and Ivan Bukenya. Ngele was quoted in South African media saying Chiefs should be very worried because “We want to win titles.”

Should Ngele score and help his team win this cup it will set a new record for his coach who will be the first coach in ABSA premiership to have won all the cups in his coaching history during PSL era while his opponent Kompela will be aiming to win his first-ever cup as a coach.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney

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CONFIDENT: Newly unveiled LOC is confident that the regional tourney will be a success

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.

The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.

Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.

For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.

He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.

According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.

Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

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Branch does it again

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Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.

The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.

At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.

Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.

Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.

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