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Volleyball women off to Rio qualifiers

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The Botswana women’s senior national volleyball team has become a force to reckon with in the African continent. Currently, the women’s volleyball team, which is scheduled to  compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Qualifiers in Cameroon beginning this Friday, is now rated above the likes of South Africa and other   countries in the region that used to be ranked higher.

This was revealed by the president of the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) Daniel Molaodi at the team’s sending off ceremony held in Gaborone this Wednesday.

“There are seven teams that will be competing at the qualifiers and only one of the teams is rated below us. The other countries that have always troubled us in the qualifiers include Algeria, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco and the hosts Cameroon,” Molaodi said. The team left yesterday for the games that will be played until February 19.

Molaodi glorified the growth of the team over the years, attributing the growth to previous preparatory initiatives that have seen the team stay together for long. The core of the current national team, he added, previously went on a training camp in Thailand where they were preparing for the last Olympic games.  “The   dividends of that camp are now slowly paying off. If we want high performance we must be willing to invest,” he said.

The acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture Kago Ramokate, who officiated at the send off ceremony, heaped praise on the team he said had already made a significant achievement by being chosen to represent the country against some of the best teams in the continent.

“Your steady trajectory in the African rankings not only shows growth of women’s volleyball in Botswana, but also symbolises commitment, passion and   hunger on the part of local clubs and their athletes,” Ramokate said, adding, “I would therefore like to implore you to go to Cameroon and play the best volleyball of your lives; and trust me, whatever the result you bring, we will be more than happy provided you played to your best.”

The team’s head coach Kabo Ntshinogang expressed satisfaction that preparations for the qualifiers went according to plan. He added that he knew and understood the majority of the players in the team except the three who will be making their senior national team debut – Tshiamo Chakalisa of Kutlwano, Jestinah Moyo of Dynamites and Keba Phofedi of Kalavango.

“ But the three new players have also shown readiness for battle and we hope they will gel quickly into the team,” he said. “The crucial qualifiers feature the cream of African volleyball. Some of the teams at the competition know us well, however we are also familiar with them.

We are a bit lacking in the attack department although our strength is on par with that of the opposition. This is something we have been working on at training,” the coach added.

Meanwhile the three senior national team rookies were full of confidence that they will fit well in the team. In a brief interview on the sidelines of the send off, Tshiamo said she was ready for the daunting test ahead as this will not be the first time she faced international competition.

“I have played against the likes of Egypt and Tunisia in development teams,” she said. Another debutant, Phofedi, said she was expecting the team to do better after the intense training they went through.

The Libero said she had gained from the knowledge of other experienced players in the team. For her part, Moyo expressed optimism for the team’s chance to proceed further in the qualifiers as they enter the competition as a strong unit.

Like Chakalisa, Moyo has played for the Under 20 and Under 23 teams and was the captain of Botswana’s African Youth Games volleyball team in 2014. The winner of the continental qualifiers will gain automatic qualification to Rio while the next two finishers will proceed to the final world Olympic Qualifiers to be played in May.

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Makwengwe promises fire and fury

Isaac Pheko

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ON A MISSION: Makwengwe

Gaborone United (GU)headcoach Philimon Makwengwe has sent a chilling message to his future opponents following a 0-1 loss to reigning BTC Premiership champions Township Rollers this past weekend.

A buoyant Makwengwe who is searching for at least two hungry strikers at GU declared that there will be nothing but misery in store for his future opponents. Following the closely contested Gaborone derby Makwengwe said:

“I have to improve in attack, I am not scoring goals, and I need to change my position on the log. I know the buzz was around the Gaborone Derby but that was never my concern. My team is currently in the red and I needed the points. I have to get out of the red and attacking my opponents is necessary”.

The unrelenting coach made it clear that Moyagoleele should not perform below their showing against Rollers last weekend. Makwengwe said the Money Machine will need to be “attack minded” in their next fixtures.

“What people should know is that Township Rollers have beaten me three times. They beat me twice back in 2012 during the Mascom Top 8. That was not the last time as they defeated me again at Prisons Airwick means this is now the fourth time.

The local tactician said losses to the Mma-Masire outfit should be a wake-up call for him. Nevertheless, Makwengwe said Rollers are the champions and one of the best teams not only in the country but the rest of the region.

“This is a team that gives a good brand of Botswana football. I am a champion myself, I am not a loser but I cannot beat Rollers alone.” Regarding the rest of the first round, Makwengwe said they will hit the ground running, I have no time to lament on negatives, I will not bemoan so many things.

My next opponents should stand in line and prepare to become victims.” The experienced coach said GU are a big brand and they should move away from where they are in the log standings. Losing 0-1 to a team like Rollers shows that we have to work on consistency.

The coach conceded the fact that he needs to make changes in his squad. I need about eight players including a fast winger on the left, I need a striker or two and these should be real strikers not people who play upfront.

Makwengwe said the current strikers at the team include a local who is a work in progress and a foreigner who is not giving enough to the team.“People want me to hide and I cannot, when you come into this country and you brush aside a local and even the labour law says you have to be better than them(locals), I bet in any profession.

If you want to play a striker for me, work harder.” The coach said he does not have an outright striker, which leaves a gap in the team. “A striker is somebody who pushes and is busy. If he doesn’t score himself, he has to use other players. It doesn’t matter if he is alone against four.”

Makwengwe said he needs two strikers to avoid changing the team too much. “In January, I am going into the market and I am going to buy. My next game is against Miscelleneous and they are coming down. I will have no mercy. Whoever comes I will have no mercy.”

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Old rivals faceoff

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BITTER RIVALS: Notwane Head coach Pio Paul

Notwane Football Club (Sechaba) and Mochudi Centre Chiefs (Magosi), are to battle it out in a potentially massive encounter as both clubs are coming from draws in their previous matches against Prisons IX and Black Forest respectively.

The clash is scheduled to take place at 4pm this Saturday at Molepolole Sports Complex.Sechaba, as Notwane is affectionately known were relegated back in 2015 while Magosi has been going through a financial crisis that hit the club recently.

Having played 9 games a piece, Notwane FC, currently on the 9th position in the BTC Premiership league log standings have won two, drew four and lost three games whereas Centre Chiefs who are occupying the 12th spot have won one, drew five and lost three games.

In a brief interview with Sun Sport this week, Notwane FC Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mogomotsi ‘Ace’ Orapeleng said, “We are going all out to win this fixture, taking nothing away from Centre Chiefs, we are not going to read much into what they have been going through lately hence our approach to the match will be of ‘great’ respect.

This past weekend we dropped a massive two points which could have made a difference against Prisons IX thus making us more desperate to collect three (3) points in this coming clash with Centre Chiefs,” he said.

Questioned about the anxiety brought by this particular contest he said: “Notwane FC and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are big brands of Botswana football, we are aware of the fact that the personnel have changed; new players, management and even sponsors but the ultimate truth is that these two have great following and most people are anxious to see how the events will turn out on the weekend,” said Orapeleng.

For his part, Mochudi Centre Chiefs Vice-Chairman, Clifford Mogomotsi confirmed their aim is to try and improve their position in the league log standings, “In every match we play, our approach is to always expand our position on the log, regardless of which team we play against. Notwane FC is a fantastic team but we are going to fight until the end to win the match,” said Mogomotsi.

Mogomotsi further pointed out that playing against Notwane FC has always been exulting, “Notwane FC has always given us entertaining football as we almost play a similar style of play,” said the Vice-Chairman.

On the possibility of losing points through the impending verdict after failure to honour their game against Miscellaneous a fortnight ago: “Our date with Botswana Premier League (BPL) Disciplinary Committee (DC) has been set, and we are awaiting that,” he explained.

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