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It’s desert race weekend

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Batswana’s fascination with speed will be yet again be quenched this weekend when the 2016 Toyota 1000km Desert Race revs back into the diamond-mining town of Jwaneng.

The 35th edition of the biggest motorsport event on the continent starts from Thursday until Sunday and a record number of spectators is expected for an even bigger racing odyssey in 2016. This year, the usual suspects in the   production car category will yet again include Toyota, Ford and VW. There will also be the intensely competitive and thrilling special vehicle category.

Something even more special this year is that most of the categories, including the motorbikes and the quads, have all attracted competition from the wider Southern African region and abroad, unlike in the previous years where the dominating participants only came from South Africa and Botswana. The race organisers, Southern Africa National Off Road Association (SANORA), expressed pride in seeing the event commonly called ‘Mantshwabise’ bring the entire country to a virtual standstill. 

SANORA revealed that his year the race would be celebrating its 25th anniversary under the Toyota banner, and that it forms round three of the Donaldson Cross Country Championship, as well as rounds of the South African Cross Country Motorcycle and Quad Racing championship.  Moreover, the Botswana national racing series are expected to compete on the same stage.

According to SANORA, the reigning champions Toyota will be guarding a record that has not been beaten in the Production Vehicle category since 2011. “Toyota Gazzo racing SA crews Anthony Taylor /Dennis Murphy and reigning champions Leeroy Poulter/Dennis Murphy (who finished fifth at the 2016 Dakar Rally) have been dominant in their Toyota Hilux models in recent seasons.”

However, SANORA stated further that the indomitable Toyota will this time face tough competition from three quality teams from overseas in the FIA class. Speaking in an interview this week, Botswana Motorsport (BMS) president Simon Modisaeman said preparations for the race are going well on their part. “We expect more spectators and new challenges from racing teams from as far as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States,” Modisaeman said.

Nevertheless, Modisaeman said there will also be stiff competition in the both the quad and motorbike categories after over 200 riders have registered compared to only 70 in the last edition of the race. “We have also collaborated with SANORA to bring more marshals to the race. We expect between 80 and 100 marshals so that we avoid unfortunate situations from last year.”

However, Modisaeman said they could not confirm whether the race will be a Dakar Rally qualifier or not, adding that SANORA is better-placed to respond. Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) said they expected spectators from both neighbouring countries and abroad. “This is the biggest off road race in Africa, with a following of over 120 000 spectators,” the BTO   stated.

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Zapata takes charge

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TAKING CHARGE: Zapata assumes his position

Township Rollers Head Coach Rodolfo Zapata was this past Tuesday in charge of the team’s training session, a first since he was appointed Rollers coach in November 2018.

Sun Sports has been reliably informed by sources that were present at the morning session that the Argentine coach was at the grounds and it was all clear that he is now the man in control of the team.

Zapata was made to jump through hoops before he could finally take over the reins at Rollers. First he had to battle with his former club, Gaborone United to cancel his active working permit with the team. The matter dragged for more than a month.

When GU finally gave in, Zapata’s qualifications as a coach were questioned. This came as shocking given that Zapata is GU’s former coach. Nevertheless, a source within Botswana Football Association (BFA) circles has told this paper that Zapata was cleared by CAF last week. As things stand Zapata will be expected on the bench this coming Friday when they play Notwane. If not, then his first job will be the Mascom Top 8 Semi-final against GU next week.

The Rollers management could not be reached yesterday as their phones rang unanswered and repeated efforts revealed that the team spokesperson, Bafana Pheto is currently across borders.
Meanwhile, Zapata’s arrival comes at a crucial time following Rollers ‘s embarrassing defeat to the hands of rivals Jwaneng Galaxy this past weekend. Galaxy cut short the endless winning streak of the defending championships to serve them their second loss since the beginning of the league with a score line of 3-1.

Of late , unconfirmed reports suggest that players had grown impatient with the caretaker coach, Thabo Motang. They differed and questioned his decisions on the pitch. Motang is now reported to have gone back to the department he knows best, goalkeeper coach.

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Moluba wants a replica of previous success

Tshepo Kehemile

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PLAY MAKER: Moalosi is a prolific goal scorer

Township Rollers influential midfielder, Edwin Moalosi confirmed his ambitions to help his team to repeat their run in the previous season to win both Botswana Telecommunication (BTC) Premiership league and the Mascom Top 8. Moluba as he is affectionately known said this after their 3-1 loss to Jwaneng Galaxy at the National Stadium this past Saturday.

Rollers 2018/19 BTC league campaign have been impressive thus far as they are still at the summit of the log despite their loss over the weekend. The Galaxy loss was their second, having lost to the other mining team, Orapa United. However, they have already reached the semi-finals of the Mascom Top 8.

Moalosi told Sun Sport that this season is not going to be a walk in the path, “It is not easy being the defending Champions as you become the team to beat, every team will try hard not to give you space to play or attack hence all the games we play become a mammoth task,” said Moalosi.

Moalosi further stated that being eliminated from the Confederations of African Football (CAF) Champions league early was a blessing in disguise, “We are now out of the CAF Champions league and we can now focus on doing well in the domestic league and cup tournament (Mascom Top 8).

In addition, we need to double our efforts as players so that we reach our ultimate goals,” he said.
Quizzed about his individual goals as a player despite picking so many injuries this season, he said, “Injuries are part of the game, it only depends on every player as to how you respond to it, I am always positive regardless of the circumstances I come across. I want to increase my goal tally and hopefully improve my assists as well,” explained.

However, Jwaneng Galaxy Captain, Olebogeng Malebye who scored a marvellous curler on the day said they are going to give Rollers a run for their money this season, “We are going to fight to death to try and leapfrog Rollers and eventually win the league as it has been our aim for a long time. And finally, we managed to beat them after a very long time trying with no success,” said Malebye.

Jwaneng Galaxy’s season is slowly improving as they are now second on the log, and Orapa United seems to be struggling a bit but the league is still open. Another round of BTC Premiership league matches is expected to continue this coming weekend with a couple of interesting fixtures to look out to including Township Rollers and Notwane FC on Friday at Molepolole and Security Systems and Mochudi Centre Chiefs on Saturday at the same venue, just to mention a few.

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