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Gilport in lion’s den

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BTC Premiership minnows Gilport Lions are on the brink of relegating to the dusty fields of the National First Division. With only eight games left for the team before the end of the 2017/18 season, Gilport are currently languishing at the bottom of the BTC Premiership log standings with a measly eight points. On paper, there is still hope that the Lions can still survive the dreaded relegation axe, however the odds are increasingly being stacked against them. In their last five matches, they lost all four of their games and drew against TAFIC Sporting Club.

Undoubtedly, the Lions have had an unpleasant season thus far. It is unlikely that the turn out of events come as a surprise to most football supporters. This Saturday the weeping Lions are expected to lock horns with the fellow relegation candidates Security Systems in Molepolole. Coming into the game, both teams will need their best if they are to survive relegation. Systems are also fighting for survival in the elite league with only 24 points in position 14 of the log standings. It is a tough call to make given the fact that both teams are desperate for maximum points and anything can happen on the day.

During their last encounter, Systems defeated Lions 2-0. Still on that, Systems are expected to come into the game a revamped lot following the recent appointment of Chico Nare as the team head coach. Nare’s immediate task at Systems is to survive relegation and the weekend game will see him try to turn his team’s fortunes around. Nevertheless, Lions Coach Mandivenga Paradzayi remains hopeful that it is not yet over until the final whistle. Speaking after their 3-2 defeat to Mochudi Centre Chiefs recently, Paradzayi said things are not looking good for his charges but they do not intend to give up. Paradzayi said he is playing with young players and it is not easy to motivate them given the challenges facing the team.

For his part, Lions chairman Kelesitse Gilika confirmed the team’s financial difficulties while they are trying to keep the team together. The outspoken chairman said it has not been an easy road for him and his team. However, they are already halfway to servicing their debts. Gilika said there is still hope in the team and like most of their rivals struggling with finances, they too will find a solution to their financial headaches. In their last games, the Lions are expected to face BDF XI, Police XI, Extension Gunners, Gaborone United and Jwaneng Galaxy among others. Meanwhile another team still hoping to escape the hot seat are Uniao Flamengo Santos 16 points.

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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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