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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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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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