The newly promoted Black Forest open their 2016/17 beMOBILE premiership debut as visitors against a more fancied Jwaneng Galaxy.
As a recently promoted outfit, Forest have a huge task on their backs as most of the more established, more experienced and well-resourced teams will be aiming to run through them and gain maximum points. Galaxy will go on a full scale attack in the search for maximum points against the rookies. Galaxy, who are mentored by coach Mike Sithole, have assembled a strong squad that includes the likes of Sekhana ‘Nandos’ Koko and sensational striker Thabang Sesinyi.
However, the Chairperson of rookie outfit Stan Kekobilwe does not share such sentiments. In an interview Kekobilwe said his team is ready to take on emerging powerhouses like Galaxy FC on their first match this Saturday. Kekobilwe said they have long begun preparing to contest as a new team in the Botswana Premier League (BPL) family. According to Kekobilwe his team means business and intends to build a rigid home in the Premier league and avoid relegation at all costs.
“This will be our first time participating in the league, however I believe we are in it to stay, if we can manage to compete in the first round, nothing will stop us to race for the top eight also,” said a confident Kekobilwe. He explained that they are not at all threatened by the stiff battle ahead of them, adding that they are fully aware of what to expect and will pull together all necessary measures to survive.
According to him, Black Forest faced off with Galaxy FC before in the lower First Division and they have always managed to contain the Jwaneng outfit. “I cannot recall the last time we suffered a great humiliation from Galaxy, we mostly draw and we intend to keep it that way.” He said in their latest pre-season friendly game in Jwaneng they suffered a 3-1 loss to Galaxy.
However, that was a learning curve and hopefully they will come out more strongly against their opponents this time around. Forest have recently reinforced their squad with players such as Itumeleng Selapa who initially played for Notwane Football Club and Leonard Chikowa from Zimbabwe. According to Kekobilwe the duo will hopefully make an impact considering their vast elite league experience.
On the other hand, Galaxy FC Chairman Njabulo Gilika said they are ready for the weekend fixture and intend to win. He said Black Forest cannot be defined as a small team but the fact that they are battling for the 2016/2017 BPL championship means they should not be underestimated. Gilika also added that Black Forest are an ambitious and consistent team that has challenged and chased for a spot in the elite league for only three seasons and finally came through.
However he noted that that they will not loosen the belts because their aim is to win all their games. “Come this weekend we will not want to disappoint, we have our objectives to meet and I believe they have theirs too,” he said.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.
Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.
“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.
Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.
“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.
Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.
“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.
Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe. No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.
Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.
However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”
Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.
However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.