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Local tennis team comes short

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Botswana national junior tennis team coach Kagiso Kelebeile this week expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance during the recent African Junior tennis zonal championships held in Gaborone. The weeklong Southern African regional championships, concluded earlier this week. The tournament was used as a qualifier for the African junior championships finals scheduled for March in Tunisia.

Botswana was represented by a total of 24 junior players in the Under 14 & 16 categories. In an interview with Sun Sports this week, Kelebeile said despite his team getting knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the tournament, the players put up a fight against tough opposition from other Southern African nations. “The results and the match scores do not explain the determination our players held to win throughout the tournament.

Most of the matches were ending in deciding sets because our players were putting up a fight at all times,” Kelebeile said. In addition, Kelebeile said they fell short of wins in the team event after the girl’s under 16 team of Tshegofatso Tsiang and Anele Maplanka made it all the way to the semi-finals after ousting Lesotho in a clean sweep of singles and doubles matches. “Tshegofatso and Anele played a beautiful tournament their encounter with Lesotho and their playing styles was proof that local kids are as talented as rival countries,” he said. According to Kelebeile, the tennis team has the right tools to play and compete against the big guns in the tennis fraternity. What holds them back is lack of quality competition in local shores.

“Our kids play less than ten tournaments in a year whereas their opponents from South Africa and the likes of Mauritius compete in close to thirty tennis tournaments in a year and that automatically gives them an upper hand over our kids,” he said. “The kids are always willing to learn and play more matches but the resources such as funds for tennis tournaments are limiting their ambitions to reach their true potential.” Kelebeile argued that another contributing factor to their decline is commitment of local athletes to other things besides tennis.

“We have kids going to school for eight hours or more and only coming for training for less than three hours. This alone needs to be looked since kids that possess a certain level of skill in sports should be accorded the same opportunity to develop it just like at school,” he said. Kelebeile added that he will go back to the drawing board together with his technical team to prepare as early as now for the next championships to be hosted by the International tennis federation in April where players aged under 18 will be allowed an opportunity to represent the country.

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Zapata takes charge

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TAKING CHARGE: Zapata assumes his position

Township Rollers Head Coach Rodolfo Zapata was this past Tuesday in charge of the team’s training session, a first since he was appointed Rollers coach in November 2018.

Sun Sports has been reliably informed by sources that were present at the morning session that the Argentine coach was at the grounds and it was all clear that he is now the man in control of the team.

Zapata was made to jump through hoops before he could finally take over the reins at Rollers. First he had to battle with his former club, Gaborone United to cancel his active working permit with the team. The matter dragged for more than a month.

When GU finally gave in, Zapata’s qualifications as a coach were questioned. This came as shocking given that Zapata is GU’s former coach. Nevertheless, a source within Botswana Football Association (BFA) circles has told this paper that Zapata was cleared by CAF last week. As things stand Zapata will be expected on the bench this coming Friday when they play Notwane. If not, then his first job will be the Mascom Top 8 Semi-final against GU next week.

The Rollers management could not be reached yesterday as their phones rang unanswered and repeated efforts revealed that the team spokesperson, Bafana Pheto is currently across borders.
Meanwhile, Zapata’s arrival comes at a crucial time following Rollers ‘s embarrassing defeat to the hands of rivals Jwaneng Galaxy this past weekend. Galaxy cut short the endless winning streak of the defending championships to serve them their second loss since the beginning of the league with a score line of 3-1.

Of late , unconfirmed reports suggest that players had grown impatient with the caretaker coach, Thabo Motang. They differed and questioned his decisions on the pitch. Motang is now reported to have gone back to the department he knows best, goalkeeper coach.

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Moluba wants a replica of previous success

Tshepo Kehemile

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PLAY MAKER: Moalosi is a prolific goal scorer

Township Rollers influential midfielder, Edwin Moalosi confirmed his ambitions to help his team to repeat their run in the previous season to win both Botswana Telecommunication (BTC) Premiership league and the Mascom Top 8. Moluba as he is affectionately known said this after their 3-1 loss to Jwaneng Galaxy at the National Stadium this past Saturday.

Rollers 2018/19 BTC league campaign have been impressive thus far as they are still at the summit of the log despite their loss over the weekend. The Galaxy loss was their second, having lost to the other mining team, Orapa United. However, they have already reached the semi-finals of the Mascom Top 8.

Moalosi told Sun Sport that this season is not going to be a walk in the path, “It is not easy being the defending Champions as you become the team to beat, every team will try hard not to give you space to play or attack hence all the games we play become a mammoth task,” said Moalosi.

Moalosi further stated that being eliminated from the Confederations of African Football (CAF) Champions league early was a blessing in disguise, “We are now out of the CAF Champions league and we can now focus on doing well in the domestic league and cup tournament (Mascom Top 8).

In addition, we need to double our efforts as players so that we reach our ultimate goals,” he said.
Quizzed about his individual goals as a player despite picking so many injuries this season, he said, “Injuries are part of the game, it only depends on every player as to how you respond to it, I am always positive regardless of the circumstances I come across. I want to increase my goal tally and hopefully improve my assists as well,” explained.

However, Jwaneng Galaxy Captain, Olebogeng Malebye who scored a marvellous curler on the day said they are going to give Rollers a run for their money this season, “We are going to fight to death to try and leapfrog Rollers and eventually win the league as it has been our aim for a long time. And finally, we managed to beat them after a very long time trying with no success,” said Malebye.

Jwaneng Galaxy’s season is slowly improving as they are now second on the log, and Orapa United seems to be struggling a bit but the league is still open. Another round of BTC Premiership league matches is expected to continue this coming weekend with a couple of interesting fixtures to look out to including Township Rollers and Notwane FC on Friday at Molepolole and Security Systems and Mochudi Centre Chiefs on Saturday at the same venue, just to mention a few.

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