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Top 8 fever hits Ghetto

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The Francistown Sports Complex is expected to attract over 20 000 spectators during the Mascom Top 8 Final on 3rd March. The Top 7th edition final will be played at the twenty-six thousand seater facility for the third consecutive time when the popular Township Rollers collide with Orapa United .The facility is the largest sports venue in the country, attracted over 15 000 spectators when Jwaneng Galaxy beat Orapa United 4-3 in last year’s Top 8 final. The modern facility boast of an impressive pitch and an electric atmosphere during high profile games like the Top 8 final. In recent years, the facility has hosted thrilling matches that often conclude in a nail biting fashion. The final game will be the third consecutive final to be hosted at the city of Francistown.

The first final was between Orapa United and Township Rollers in the 2015/2016 edition in which Orapa United pulled a major upset against Popa. Once again, the facility located in the Madzibalori area of Francistown has beat the archaic National Stadium in Gaborone to host the Tse di Tona tournament decider. Speaking at a Press Conference on Tuesday the Mascom Top 8 Local Organizing committee chairman Moreo Modisenyane said the near 30 000 seating capacity of the facility was one of the factors that led to their decision.

With the drought of top-flight football having hit hard on Francistown over the years Modisenyane said they had to bring football to the people. “We decided to give this final to the Francistown Community, we haven’t hosted any Mascom Top 8 game in Francistown so we give the Francistown community this final clash.” Moreover, the last Mascom Top 8 final attracted over 15 000 spectators and this year 5000 more are expected to throng the Francistown Stadium.

“Rollers are undoubtedly the most popular team in the country and we know Orapa can also pull a crowd so we expect nothing less than twenty thousand, I am putting my head on the block and saying we are going to exceed the 20 000 mark,” said Modisenyane. In attempts to pull a massive crowd they will be abridged prices for the first 500 spectators who will buy the Nswazi Stand (Eastern) tickets, which cost P40, will get a P10 discount, the tickets price will be condensed to P30. For the northern and southern stands the ticket’s that cost P30 will be reduced to P20.

“We want to reward the early bird’s spectators so this reward period will go on from the 19th to 26th of February. After the 26th the prices will be back to normal prices even if we don’t reach that 500 spectators,” Botswana Premier League (BPL) CEO Thabo Ntshinogang said during the press conference. Security will be improved once more, “we had deployed a 120 security officers and forty police men in the last final. Around 60 security officers were based inside the stadium and another 60 were outside . We are hoping to increase the numbers for the safe guarding of property and spectators.”

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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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