World Sports

Army men face defeat, finally

The first round of the Mascom Volleyball Men’s League reaches its climax this weekend when defending champions BDF VI take on their army counterparts and league contenders Diphatsa in Francistown.

The top-of-the-table clash will serve as a litmus test of strength given that each of the two sides is yet to lose a game this season. Under the tutelage of Leabaneng George, Diphatsa have been on a scintillating vein of form having played eight league games from which they have garnered 24 points – all games won. When BDF XI won the league last year, Diphatsa followed closely on the second spot and they believe the time is now to show that they can wrestle the league title from under the feet of their army brothers.

On the other hand, BDF VI have played and won all their nine games, leaving Army men face defeat, finallythem perched at 27 points. Both teams recently beat the league’s third challenger Police XI to set up a tasty match-up that will ultimately give indications of where the league is headed. A lot had been expected from Police XI in this dog fight, but they have slowly faded from the winners’ radar. Diphatsa should be buoyed by the prospect of playing in the vicinity of their fans at the Area S BDF barracks in Francistown. They remain the only side that can still beat BDF VI who have not lost a game since the beginning of the last league season. Even BDF VI players and technical team know that their biggest test lies in wait at the Francistown army barracks despite having dominated their opponents over the years.

The Mogoditshane based side underlined their dominance last season when they also beat Diphatsa in the Capital Motors Cup of 2012. However Diphatsa head coach George, who has donned Diphatsa’s colours in recent years as a universal player, has all the reasons to defeat his opponents as he boasts a youthful side which includes the quartet of their captain Nlebesi Mphapho, setter Emmanuel Moala, their Libero Isaiah Banye and their opposite player Alec Engleton. These are young players whose exceptional performance caught the eye of national team selectors who included them in the recently-assembled national squad coached by Cuban Manuel Torres and, ironically, George himself. George told Sun Sport that they were all set to face and annihilate BDF VI as their mission is to win the league this season. “We will treat them like any other club in our quest to gain maximum points against them,” George said.

But BDF VI coach Selebatso Mabutho is not surprised. He says he knows that every team that plays against his charges always ups its game a lot higher than when they face any other team – and he is prepared. With his team playing this encounter a few kilometers away from his home village Mathangwane, Mabutho says their plan is to overcome their ‘stumbling block’ to continue their dominance over them. “All our games have been difficult this season, but we have triumphed in the end, and we will continue to do just that this weekend,” he said. BDF VI displayed class this past weekend when they defeated both Spiking Stars and Victory Seekers. Mabutho will continue to rely on his experienced side which includes Tjiapo Madeluka, their veteran Francis Dingwe and the evergreen Oscar Kurwana.