World Sports

Premier league getting tough for Ghetto teams

Since the beginning of the 2013/2014 BeMOBILE Premier League, Francistown clubs ECCO City Greens and Tafic have been struggling to maintain consistency and now are treading on slippery ground as relegating to the first division league looks increasingly probable.

Greens, who used to be a force to reckon with and first side from the north to win the premier league, are now a shadow of themselves as they are now blowing cold. MamojaDiski’s troubles started when Botswana Meat Commission [BMC] – which has been sponsoring the team – decided to offload the team as they said the football business was not part of their mandate. After that pull out of BMC, the team lost some of their key players including their lethal striker Patrick Lenyeletse and Ontse Ntesa to Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

The club has so far collected 22 points from possible 57, winning only six games and losing nine. This used to be foreign at the Francistown giants and it does not auger well for a club sitting only six points above the relegation zone with about eleven more games to play. Greens started the New Year the way they started the premier league season last year by losing 2-1 to Nico United last weekend, only affording a 1-1 draw against fellow strugglers Notwane this past weekend.
The team’s coach Atshele Molapi admits that the going is tough for the former meat boys and attributes the problem to losing key players at the beginning of the season. “We lost the first four games of the league and this setback has piled a lot of pressure on both the players and the technical team. Some of the players are not able to absorb the pressure hence losing more games,’’ said Molapi.

He added that currently they needed attacking midfielders and strikers to bolster the team and has put forward the proposal before the management to consider. The club’s next assignment will see them travel to Palapye where they will meet a trick Motlakase side.

Across town, one of Francistown favourite sides Tafic, known to its die-hard fans as ‘Undipendikupe,’ has made the Francistown taxi rank a mourning centre because of its perennial losses and financial problems.  Most of the taxi operators are sworn supporters of the once high-flying premier league side from the north. Like their homeboys, Tafic also started the league on a poor note, losing most of their games and this was attributed to the infighting amongst its management committee. This led to the eventual resignation of the club chairman Humphrey Nawa last year.

The team roped in former Township Rollers coach Darlington Dodo to guide them after a string of losses.  So far they have won only four games and lost twelve.  The team is currently at the foot of the table after being thrashed 5-0 by another relegation candidate Uniao Flamengo Santos. Their next game is against fellow strugglers Extension Gunners at the Francistown Stadium.

Football analyst Fobby Radipotsane observes that Greens, if not careful,  will follow the route of TASC who have spent a lot of time relying on grants from the Botswana Defence Force.“They need to partner with a community team in order to attract more supporters, which will translate into investors taking a keen interest in the team,’’ noted Radipotsane. 

He believes however that  the team will survive relegation this season but does not guarantee the same next season unless they change tactics and the way they generally do things. As for Tafic, they are in the relegation zone with two clubs that are very experienced in avoiding the chop – Notwane and Gunners. Radipotsane avers therefore that Tafic had better start collecting maximum points especially at home  in order to boost their chances of staying in the league
Radipotsane, who is also the chairperson for the Tswapong Region Football Association, said that unless the Matjimenyenga Boys adapt to modern ways of running a professional entity, they are certainly heading to the first division.

While in the past it has never happened that Francistown was without a team in the premier league –  as TAFIC and Ecco City used to switch places between the elite and lower leagues – the current situation is quite dicey for the ghetto teams as they just might accompany each other down the the dusty road..