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Botswana Netball seek Singaporean glory

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Botswana Senior Netball team coach, Sithulile Mlotshwa is confident of a strong showing at the M1 Nations Cup 2019, which will be held from 20 to 26 October in Singapore.

Currently ranked 26th in the world, the local ladies will play against Cook Islands (12), Ireland (25), Namibia (33), Papua New Guinea (20) and the host nation Singapore (ranked 28th).

The current squad boasts a number of the players who impressed at the 2017 Youth World Cup (WC) and have since made the step-up to senior level.

The likes of Fattimah Dino, Cheludo David, Maipelo Mosotho, Boikanyo Selogetso and Kgomotso Matibibini will be banking on the experience of two years ago as they go in search of Asian glory.

Speaking to Voice Sport through the week, Mlotshwa said she was looking forward to seeing her troops in action against higher-placed opposition.

“Not taking anything away from lowly ranked teams in this tournament, however, our aim is to do well against these highly ranked nations. Then we finish off with the lowly ranked teams so that we seal our spot for a medal game,” she explained, adding preparations for the tournament have gone well.

“The training has been positive for the past five weeks whilst we were in camp. We played a few friendly matches in efforts to learn where we are still lacking behind but there are great signs of hope.
“There is talent in Botswana, and we need to look out for this potential and unearth it by continuously playing high ranked teams as a way of developing the player’s mental strength from a tender age!”

For her part, team captain, Francinah Eyman revealed morale in camp was high and the team are itching to get started.

“I am impressed with the way the girls have shown great team spirit and support to one another. We have all had our fair share of challenges during this period but the morale has been really amazing.”

Eyman noted that most of the squad have participated in this tournament before and so will not be overawed by the occasion.

“This tourney is not new to most of us. We know what to expect and are looking forward to competing. We want to represent the country with pride and bring the medal home.”

The team was expected to leave for Singapore this Thursday (October 17), with their first game against the host nation Singapore on Monday.

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Makhwengwe suspended

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Makwengwe’s suspension is really unfortunate. We never saw that coming as players and, at this juncture, we have not been given a detailed report as to what happened.

However, that should not stop us – as a team – from working hard so that we achieve our goals because we are professionals.

It is difficult as he was a father figure to us but we are going to keep winning for him.

Fit and raring to go

I did not play over the weekend when we hammered Notwane FC by two goals to nil but it was a really pleasant feeling to see the boys playing their hearts out and getting maximum points.

Notwane FC and Gaborone United in their last game.

Moreover, I stopped training on Wednesday to go for a follow-up check-up at Bokamoso Hospital and so far, so good.

I cannot wait to be back in action again, helping the team.

MASCOM TOP 8 SEMI-FINALS

Good luck to the last four teams left in the competition – Rollers, Galaxy, Orapa and BDF XI – who will battle it out in the first leg semis this weekend.

We did not make the cut as we were eliminated on penalties against Galaxy. It is unfortunate but it is part of football.

BLOCKER: Mankanku of Gaborone United defending the ball from Baruti of Jwaneng Galaxy

However, we are going to use this break to prepare ourselves for the next match.

Liverpool’s league dominance

Liverpool’s consistency has been remarkable in the year’s Premier League campaign and they are already on the verge of being crowned the champions even though there are still many games to go.

If they do not win it from here, they will only have themselves to blame.

The type of football they displayed this season was results-oriented.

It has also been very good to watch!

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Diamonds in the cup

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*Galaxy and Orapa clash in Mascom Top8

Diamond brothers, Jwaneng Galaxy and Orapa United, put their league aspirations on hold this Sunday as they go in search of Top 8 glory once again.

Having won three of the last four editions, the two mining teams have rich pedigree when it comes to this tournament.

They also boast a rich history against each other, facing off in the 2017 Final, when a thrilling climax to the competition saw Galaxy clinch their maiden title, running out 4-3 winners after extra time.

Galaxy have since added to that triumph, sealing their second Top 8 last year, beating Gaborone United 2-0 in a one-sided final in Francistown.

Having dispatched of the same opponents this time around, the defending champions will be hungry for more success as they seek to become the first club to win the tournament three times.

Indeed, it could be a history-making year for Galaxy as they are also looking to become the first team to retain the cup. However, standing in their way is Orapa United.

REPRESENTING ORAPA UNITED: Tiiso

The country’s form team, the Ostriches, currently top the Premier League and go into Sunday’s first-leg on the back of an impressive 4-0 thrashing of BDF XI.

For Orapa, it is now four years since their title-winning campaign, when a young Madinda Ndlovu-led side sent shockwaves around the country, defeating the mighty Township Rollers 3-1.

The result promised to be a breakthrough moment for the Boys from Boteti.

However, although they have since made two finals – losing to Galaxy and then Rollers in 2018 – Orapa are yet to add to their 2016 success.

Now under the tutelage of another wily tactician, Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote, they look well-placed for another shot at glory.

“Our recent run of good results in the league is permanent. Players are starting to understand my style of play, which is showing in our results,” the former Zebras boss told Voice Sport this week.

Keeping his cards close to his chest, Mpote went on to say, “Furthermore, our plan is to translate our good performance to the league cup against Galaxy, who are not really an easy side but we are going to approach the match with an intention to get a victory.”

Despite the first-leg being in Jwaneng, Mpote stressed his team would play attacking football and take the game to their opponents.

“Galaxy are going to be having a 12th player, who are the supporters, but I told my boys that as long we are playing in Botswana, we are home and can achieve any result we want at a given time,” he stressed.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Mpote’s opposite number, Miguel Da Costa, said they would not be dwelling on last year’s triumph.

JWANENG GALAXY COACH: Miguel Da Costa

“Our approach this season is new, with a fresh mentality, hence we are not going to be carried away by our last year’s Mascom Top 8 triumph.”

Turning his attention to Sunday’s opponents, the Portuguese national said, “We want to beat Orapa United at home even though we have so much respect for them, we are going to go all the way out!”

Meanwhile, the other Mascom Top 8 semi-final pitted two-time winners, Rollers, against BDF XI – a repeat of the 2014 final, which the Army Boys won 5-4 on penalties.

Popa go into the fixture full of confidence having hit Police XI for seven at the weekend. BDF XI, on the other hand, suffered their worst defeat of the season, trounced 4-0 by a rampant Orapa.

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Chess season gathers momentum

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AIRFICIENCY INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS THIS WEEKEND

Sanctioned by the sport’s global governing body, International Chess Federation (FIDE), the two-day competition is one of the biggest in the local chess calendar.

In a brief interview with Voice Sport, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Kutlwano Tatolo revealed a bumper turnout is anticipated.

“Because it is the first tournament of the year, we are expecting in the region of 300 players from across the country to compete at this particular tourney,” the PR Officer declared.

The Championships are divided into two sections: the FIDE Rated Open Section, which is open to both male and female players, and the FIDE Rated Ladies Section, which is restricted to women.

First prize in the Open Section pays out P3, 000 while the runner-up will pocket P2, 000 and third gets P1, 000. The next three positions are worth P700, P500 and P300 respectively.

As for the ladies section, the winner will walk away with P2, 000 while second place gets P1, 000. There is also P700, P500 and P300 on offer for position three to five.

One of Botswana’s leading lights in the sport, Candidate Master Thuso Mosutha boldly declared he has unfinished business when it comes to the Airficiency Championships.

“I have played in this particular tournament a couple of times and I have only been within the top 5. However, my aim this year is to at least finish above the top 3, that is when I can know that I did well,” the confident 25-year-old told Voice Sport.

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