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Botswana snubs Messi

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Zebras’ captain Joel Mogorosi is among the 30 national team captains who did not think highly of Monday night’s Ballon D’Or winner Lionel Messi. Instead, the Township Rollers’ winger voted for Christiano Ronaldo as the best and did not even include Messi in the list of his top three best footballers of 2015.

In voting for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, each FIFA member country is accorded three votes from the national team’s coach and captain, with the third vote coming from the media. All the three voters from Botswana – coach Peter Butler, Mogorosi and journalist Oaitse Mathala – picked Ronaldo as the world’s best footballer with Messi coming in second place for Butler and Mathala.

Curiously, Messi did not feature in Mogorosi’s top three, with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez coming second in his assessment, and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure coming third. Toure, who lost out on the African Footballer of Year award last week was also voted third by Butler while Brazilian and Barcelona star Neymar completed Mathala’s top three.

Once the votes were leaked onto Twitter within minutes of Messi being crowned the winner, curious votes from other football stars and coaches emerged, with some voting for Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben despite spending much of the season sidelined through injury. Chief to note was the fact that Messi, voting as captain of Argentina, did not include Ronaldo in his top three of teammates Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta.

The favour was duly returned by Portugal’s captain who instead voted for his teammates Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale. Ronaldo neither featured in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s top three.  

England’s captain Wayne Rooney went for Messi and Thomas Muller ahead of Ronaldo, and neither did he vote his coach Louis Van Gaal for the coach’s top prize. Instead Rooney picked Jose Mourinho as the best along with Pep Guardiola and Chile manager Jose Sampaoli.

In not including Messi in his top three, Mogorosi was part of the 30 captains that included Robert Lewandoski (Poland), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), James Rodriguez (Colombia), Chris Wood (New Zealand), Ronaldo (Portugal), Scott Brown (Scotland) and Diego Godín of Uruguay

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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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