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TOP 8: THE RETURN

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Orapa United have their sights squarely on the 2015/16 Mascom Top 8 trophy, and as they invade Extension Gunners’ territory this Friday at the National Stadium for their second leg of the quarter final encounter, nothing but victory will satisfy their ambitious plans.

The two sides played to a one-all draw in the first leg encounter played at the Itekeng Stadium in Orapa three weeks ago. Of all the eight teams competing for the P1 200 000 prize money after only five games, it is the Ostriches of Orapa who are the hungrier for success as also seen in their league performance.

Ever since arriving in the premier league some three seasons back, the Ostriches have gone from strength to strength, and in the process pulled upset after upset over bigger rivals already accustomed with premiership life for years – Gunners included. As things stand, Orapa United know that they stand a better chance of winning their first trophy in the form of the Mascom Top 8 than with the marathon full year league competition that demands stamina and enduring consistency.

Label them ‘dark horses’ or ‘wild card’ at your own peril, the Ostriches are in for the kill, and their previous impressive results against the big guns of the elite league can attest to their credentials as potent challengers to the ‘Tse Di Tona’ title. Owing to the previous upsets they have meted on the teams in this competition, they actually have a realistic chance of winning the lucrative cup. Their first hurdle to this cup glory comes in the form of Gunners whose plummeting form will be very encouraging to the team from the diamond mining town.

When the two meet, the Ostriches who once again have been on scintillating form once this season, will deploy their entire attacking prowess to overwhelm a vulnerable Gunners who have not known victory for time immemorial now. Internal strife at the Lobatse outfit has not been helpful to the metal state of the players and United may need little resources to push them aside the scoring ability of Thabang Sesinyi as well as the experience of both Patrick Lenyeletse and Patrick Motsepe. Besides, the Orapa lads this time have yet another ace up their sleeves in the form of   multiple championship winning headcoach Madinda Ndlovu.

The Zimbabwean coach knows a lot about winning championships, albeit with big clubs. Ndlovu’s storied career in Botswana has seen him coach big clubs like Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers to championship glory and such experience may also be enough to see his Ostriches go easily past the Gunners who are clearly out of sorts lately. With his eyes set on the gratification of carrying his winning exploits to a relatively new team, Ndlovu most likely employ an attacking formation to breach the somewhat miserly Mapantsula defence that despite their string of losses, has given away very little.
The Ostriches’ spokesperson Tebalo Hule made it clear that his team was in the Top 8 to win the coveted trophy and not just to participate. “We believe we have the right squad for the job and we   have no pressure at all. We have played against most of the teams in the tournament and we have done well in the encounters, thus our confidence,” he said.

Hule attributed the team’s recent good run and success to good administration. “We try by all means to be organised and make sure that the teams’ welfare is taken care of, including both transport and accommodation.”also, Hule said the team’s support base has grown tremendously as they manage to fill up their home stadium whenever they host games. “The support base is important for motivating the players, we hope to see them fill up the away stadium when we play Gunners.”

Gunners on the other hand might just find themselves in a pleasant moment to turn their fortunes around, and the Ostriches are better warned to tread with care as wounded predators are often the most dangerous. The players at the Lobatse outfit may also be extra-motivated by knowing what is at stake as their club has been struggling to pay them. Veteran coach Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare recently replaced former headcoach Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul and he is still looking for his first victory at the club although a goalless draw will be enough to see his Gunners proceed to the semi-finals on the away–goal rule.

The match will herald the start of an eventful weekend where on Saturday another second leg quarter final match will see BDF XI will take on Gaborone United at the Molepolole Sports Complex. Matebele come into the game with a 1-0 advantage that could see them send the defending champions down the exit door. The third quarter final encounter pits Township Rollers with Police XI at the Molepolole Sports Complex on Sunday. Rollers won the first leg in An awesome 4-2 comeback thriller following the cops’ early 2-0 lead. The stage concludes on Monday evening, still at the Molepolole Sports Complex, where Mochudi Centre Chiefs will take on Gilport Lions.

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Selibe Phikwe bowls club faces closure

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Selibe-Phikwe Bowls Club faces a possible collapse, Sun Sports has learnt. This follows the closure of the BCL mine back in 2016, which has seen the club struggle without the supply of electricity and water.

Speaking to this publication this week, the chairperson of Phikwe club Oabona Motladiile said that things have been stagnant since the mine closed doors. “Nothing is happening here, there is no action at all because when the mine closed, it meant there was no one to pay for the water and electricity bills,” Motladiile said.

Motlaadile explained that their grounds are situated at Area 2, a place that the mine paid all bills for, however it has since proved very hard for them to maintain the green that needs constant watering. He said they do not have any alternative facilities to use and have since informed the Phikwe council about their difficulties but still solutions have not been found.

The Phikwe Chairman at the time of going to press said he was not sure of the exact figures they needed on a monthly basis but around 20 000 litres of water and electricity not exceeding P 1 000. He lamented that the Phikwe club is one of the oldest clubs locally and at one point had about 30 members. However, numbers have been dropping because there is no action.

“We are a very competitive club of men and women who make it into the national team,” he said. John Gaborutwe who is the BBA Vice President said that the possible closure of Phikwe Bowls Club was one of the topical issues to be discussed during the BBA Annual General Meeting (AGM) this coming weekend. The affiliates will be expected to vote for a new Vice President, Treasurer and Director of Bowls as the term for the current office bearers expires.

The AGM will be followed by the start of the Rose Bowl tournament. The tournament is the 1st of the 5-series major tournaments for the 2019 season. The remaining tournaments will be held in Francistown, Orapa, Jwaneng and Phikwe respectively. Jwaneng club is the defending champions.

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BFA FIRES BRIGHT

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Allegations coming out of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) are that national football team head coach Major David Bright has been fired as of Tuesday this week. The illustrious veteran tactician took over from Englishman Peter James Butler more than a year ago.

At the helm of the Zebras, Bright struggled to bring home positive results and find winning combinations. Having failed to lead Zebras past the qualifying stages of the 2019 Afcon competition was the first sign of trouble for the veteran coach at Lekidi. Furthermore the experienced tactician was expected to improve Botswana’s position in the FIFA world rankings. The Zebras are currently in the lowly 145th position.

According to sources close to the matter, Bright was handed a termination letter and challenged to show cause why he should not be relieved of his duties at Lekidi. As one of the most decorated coaches in both Botswana and CAF region, Bright has coached numerous teams including South Africa’s Bay United, Gaborone United and Morupule Wonders.

Reached for comment on the matter the BFA president Maclean Letshwiti insisted that the former army man is still in charge of the senior national team. For his part Bright said he could not comment on the matter and referred Sun Sport to the BFA.

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