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United show Oris and Drago the door, await a Dutchman



Coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic still cannot believe what befell him over the past festive break. The ink had hardly dried on his two-year contract with Gaborone United, but the club ruthlessly fired him from his positions as Technical Director and stand-in coach.

His fate was actually sealed a few days before New Year’s Day but the killer blow on him was delivered this week. The nomadic Serbian,  formerly with Extension Gunners and Mochudi Centre Chiefs, was reportedly brought into the Reds’ fold by United’s director and financier Nicolas Zakhem a season ago to serve as Technical Director while buying  time as the club was preparing  to get rid of the then club mentor  Rahman Gumbo who was later fired. 

Later the Serbian assumed the reigns under unclear circumstances with club officials failing to come out in the open on who between him and their then new recruit  Oris Boyo Radipotsane was the coach. Boyo  had joined United  after being fired by premiership rookies  Galaxy FC for poor results. At one point many thought that Drago was just paving way for Boyo to take over the reins for the next season, but the latter was fired as well.

Many United supporters have taken to social media to criticize United’s management  for firing Drago, saying the man could have been retained to assist as part of the technical team. Despite one heavy 4-0 loss against an unprepared and disjointed Nico United, he was still seen as what the doctor had ordered for the struggling Money Machine, based on his hard work and passion for the game.

United have also been bundled out of the prestigious Mascom Top 8 cup they were defending after winning it last season. Since winning the inaugural beMobile Premier League championship, United have been an inconsistent side characterised by infighting, further renowned for chopping and changing coaches in a short space of time.

Many times the excuse is hinged upon the failure of coaches to win titles whereas the overriding factor is often the internal wrangling that always works against the club’s success on the field.

In their usual demeanor, the United management was over the weekend denying the sacking of their coaches, saying there was no substance in what he called ‘rumours.’ This past weekend, Chairman Rapula Okaila dismissed the sacking of their coaches as just talk without substance, but that was hours before they would officially sack the Serbian. Yet the club is due to  kick start their pan African campaign in the CAF Confederations Cup.

However, the same weekend, fresh reports were suggesting that United could be taken over by Dutchman Mart Nooij. The 61-year old has vast experience working with clubs and national teams on the African continent having first come to Africa in 2003 as Burkina Faso national under 23 team coach and led them to FIFA World Youth Championship.

Still in Africa four years later, he assumed the reins in Mozambique as national team coach where in his five year-stint he qualified them to the 2010 AFCON finals in Angola only for him to resign after failing to qualify the Mambas to the 2012 finals. 

Sources close to the events have hinted to Sun Sports that Nooij will come along with an unnamed Serbian physical trainer who is currently based in Zambia. United have since parted ways with Radipotsane as well and a surprised Drago says he will stay on in the country with the hope of finding another team.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney



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



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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