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History made as Rollers march to CAF Group stages

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Township Rollers made history as they became the first Botswana side to book a place in the group stages of the CAF Champions League following a goalless draw with Tanzanian champions Young Africans (Yanga) at a second leg match played at a packed National Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Rollers came into the reverse fixture leading 2-1 from their shock victory in Yanga’s home ground a fortnight ago in Tanzania.

To win the tie and proceed to the next stage, Rollers needed a draw or for Yanga to win with a margin of one goal but with no more than two goals to their credit. Rollers achieved that as the Saturday result meant they proceed via a 2-1 aggregate score, ensuring they enter a gruelling stage where they will play six more matches in the competition across the continent against possible opponents in the mould of former champions TP Mazembe, Al Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns a ong others.

Rollers’ captain Maano Ditshupo was ecstatic after the match, praising and giving gratitude to the multitudes of people who thronged the stadium to give them support. “They drove us, we had to fight hard not to disappoint them as they really gave us the necessary motivation,” he said after the match. Ditshupo added that they had achieved everything they had set out to achieve this season having vowed to win the Top 8 championship, and now entering the group stages of the champions league.

Similarly excited was the experienced Tshepo Talkie Motlhabankwe who described the victory as the best birthday present he could ever get. “Throughout the week I pushed my teammates, reminding them that March 17 is my birthday and that they have to ensure I enjoy my day,” Motlhabankwe said, adding that playing the group stages will give them more experience that will rub positively on the development of Botswana football. After the match, the Rollers players showered Motlhabankwe with all manner of confetti, ranging from potato chips to water, to mark their excitement for getting what he had called for.

Rollers will know their group stage opponents on Wednesday next week when the the draw will be conducted in Cairo. The group stages carry a minimum prize money of around P5 million. In the Saturday match, Rollers dominated proceedings from the start, bouyoed by the over 20 000 supporters who cut across the Botswana club divide. Yanga never really threatened the Rollers’ defence despite beefing up their team with five players who did not play in the first leg. Rollers’ goalkeeper Keeagile Kgosipula had a lonely match where he saw very little action on the day as his defence kept their opponents at bay. It was only in the 70th minute that Yanga threatened to score with their player Odrey Chirwa firing wide from close range when he only had Kgosipula to beat.

Ahead of the match on Friday, Rollers head coach Nikola Kavazovic had talked of the importance of the match, saying a positive result could ensure the local game gets to be tested against established continental giants.

“We are now definitely among the 20 best teams in Africa, we have defeated a top side in Al-Merreikh and in the first round we showed confidence in our game in Tanzania. I believe we deserve a place in the group stages and we will work for it. Yanga are African giants and we are still a developing team, but I believe we are now favourites to go through,” Kavazovic said.

“I am very proud of my players,” he added. “Whatever happens on Saturday, we have already done a lot, more than what was expected, more than what was achieved in the previous seasons. The second goal in the first leg against Yanga showed our model of play, our trademark. That goal was not just good by African standards…even by international, world standards it was good, 21 completed passes, one minute 40 seconds without Yanga having the ball and we scored. We will keep to our style,” Kavazovic added.

Yanga’s Assistant Coach Noel Mwandila had expressed confidence on Friday, that his Tanzanian side would prevail, owing to performances back at home. ‬
“After the Rollers game in Tanzania we played two league games where we scored three goals in each match, so I believe we have overcome the problem of not converting goals in the first leg. We will have one or two players not being available, but we also have our captain who did not feature in the first leg who is now available,” Mwandila said. However, things did not go according to plan for Yanga as Rollers bullied them throughout the match, with the likes of Joel Mogorosi, Mosha Gaolaolwe and Lemponye Tshireletso squandering clear chances.

Rollers had made two changes from their 2-1 first leg win over Yanga in Dar es Salaam with Edwin Moalosi and Edwin Olerile coming in for Kaone Vanderwesthuizen and the injured Mthokozisi Msomi. Other players who featured for Rollers include Simisani Mathumo, Motsholetsi Sikele and Segolame Boy.

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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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