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Cooper says sorry

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Apologetic Mini Cooper zooms back into Zebras fold

After making headlines for his drink-fuelled indiscipline whilst on national team duty, Mothusi Cooper has offered a heartfelt apology to the nation.

Although he was not included in the Zebras initial 25-man squad for the upcoming AFCON 2021 qualifiers with Zimbabwe and Algeria, Cooper’s remorse has earned him a recall to the side.

Widely regarded as one of Botswana’s most talented footballers, the 22-year-old central midfielder was one of four players suspended from the Zebras by Head Coach, Adel Amrouche.

Cooper, along with Orapa United players, Mothusi Johnson and Onkabetse Makgantai and Thero Setsile (TS Galaxy) were booted out in disgrace after being caught drinking alcohol while in camp.

The quartet’s boozy antics reportedly took place in-between the Zebras ill-fated two-legged FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier against Malawi, which they lost 1-0.

Whilst Cooper’s drinking mates remain condemned to the sidelines, the Township Rollers playmaker has been handed a shot at redemption.

Having originally been omitted by Amrouche when the Belgian announced his squad on Monday, Cooper was handed a surprise recall just 24 hours later.

This was followed by a 39-second video of Cooper on social media in which he apologised to the nation for his indiscipline.

The dreadlocked midfielder, who goes by the nickname Mini Cooper, advised professional players to stop drinking alcohol ‘before it’s too late’.

He further apologised to his family for his misbehaviour and was quick to thank Amrouche, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the fans for giving him a second chance with the national team.

Not wishing to dwell on the matter, Amrouche described Copper as a good player bursting with potential.

“I’m glad he’s apologised,” added the coach, whose side left for Zimbabwe on Tuesday, where they meet the Warriors in Harare on Friday.

The Zebras then return home, where they face the daunting task of hosting recently crowned AFCON champions Algeria at the National Stadium on Monday.

In a brief interview with Voice Sport, Amrouche stressed that whilst Botswana players are talented, they need to work on their discipline and ‘respect the camp’.

Although he bemoaned the lack of preparation time the squad have had together, Amrouche noted match fitness was not a concern.

“I believe my players are ready to represent the nation well. There are new players in the team – they will be guided by the more experienced guys who have played in international games before. We do not have stars and are in the process of building a strong team with a good mentality,” added Amrouche.

The no-nonsense tactician further revealed that Jwaneng Galaxy’s midfield maestro Lebogang Ditsele was called for camp but did not show up.

“If he does not respect his country he should stay at home. I will work with those who are willing to play!” blasted the Belgian.

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Table tennis team eye regional glory

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Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) says the build up to next month’s Region 5 games in Lesotho is going according to plan despite a few hiccups.

In a brief interview with Voice Sport, BTTA National Para Team Coach, Godirileone Bagwasi said, “I think our preparations have been on point thus far.

“Moreover, I am confident that we are going there to compete not to add numbers.”

However, Bagwasi conceded that a number of obstacles have risen, including lack of funds, transport and accommodation for players.

“This has made it difficult for them to train to their fullest potential,” he confirmed.

Botswana will be sending an 11-memebr squad to Lesotho, consisting of four men, four ladies and three para players.

At the weekend, the national team unveiled their new kit as part of their four-year sponsorship with Stag International worth P476, 000.

Speaking to Voice Sport on the sidelines, the men’s top ranked player, Tshenolo Mooketsi, 21, admitted they would be facing the unknown in the mountains.

“The coaches are pushing us to new limits because we will be up against opponents that we have never played against before. We do not know their strengths and weaknesses thus we need to be ready come the big day,” said Mooketsi, who has set himself and his teammates high goals for the regional competition.

“I want to be ranked 1st in the Southern Africa region and I would like to see my country collecting Gold medals. I believe the players that have been called up are impressive and have been consistent in the domestic tournaments hence we will certainly cause havoc in Lesotho,” predicted the youngster, his eyes alight with excitement.

The games run from 9 – 12 December, and as well as Team BW and the hosts, will feature: Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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A rivalry reignited

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GALAXY AND GU MEET IN TOP 8 REPEAT

The ninth edition of the fabled Mascom Top 8 kick-starts this weekend, pitting the best teams in the land against each other as they battle it out for P1.4 million.

This year’s draw has thrown up a number of intriguing encounters, including a repeat of the last final as defending champion’s Jwaneng Galaxy and Gaborone United lock horns once again.

Each with two titles to their name, the clubs are the most successful in Top 8 history.

In an absorbing finale played out in the drizzle of Francistown, Galaxy ran out 2-0 winners to break GU hearts.

The Money Machine have been given an instant shot at redemption.

However, having handed GU their first loss of the season in a 3-1 thumping just two weeks ago, Miguel Da Costa’s troops will be confident of progressing in the competition.

Galaxy will be looking to Tebogo Sembowa to continue his love affair with the Top 8. The 31-year-old forward is searching for an unprecedented sixth Gold medal, having won the tournament twice with Galaxy, twice with GU and once with Rollers.

Sembowa destroyed his former team when the two sides meet earlier this month, scoring all three of Galaxy’s goals to complete a stunning hattrick. He will be hungry to dish out more pain.

Despite their recent dominance over GU, the diamond club’s captain, Thabo Leinanyane stressed they were treating Moyagoleele with the upmost respect.

“Our opponents have new players and a new coach so we worked thoroughly in our preparations to avoid upsets. They are very strong in the midfield so we have to play with caution to cut their supply up-front.

“We have prepared well and are ready to execute our coach’s plan. We have to stop them scoring because it can work to their advantage on second leg,” said the 26-year-old former Gilport Lions defender.

Leinanyane noted that the club’s recent shun by the Zebras – not a single player was selected for the games against Zimbabwe and Algeria – could work in their favour.

“None of us was called for the national team camp so we had time to train together as a team during two weeks FIFA break,” he concluded.

Leinanyane’s opposite number, GU captain Alphonse Modisaotsile, 34, told Voice Sport his squad was bursting with Top 8 experience and would not be overawed by the occasion.

Modisaotsile highlighted the importance of scoring an away goal and taking a lead into the second leg.

“I think the mistake we made in the previous encounter in the Top 8 final was to concede an early goal – we must not allow it to happen again! We have not been doing well in the league so this is the time to redeem ourselves as it will also boost our confidence for the next games.

“All players are available for selection and the league break gave us enough time to prepare,” said Modisaotsile, adding they will be banking on new signings Joel Mogorosi and Mara Moloi Modisaotsile to show their worth.

The two sides meet in Jwaneng on Sunday for the latest chapter in their rich rivalry – with a second leg still to follow, plenty of twists and turns are expected.

The Top 8 action starts on Friday as three time finalists, Orapa United host this season’s form team and early league leader’s Security Systems at Itekeng Stadium.

On Saturday, Molepolole City Stars face Township Rollers while BDF XI play Police XI on Monday at Molepolole.

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‘Samba boys maintain impressive run

Mogoditshane Fighters make it 8-in-a-row with late win against Red Sparks

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Early pace setters Mogoditshane Fighters maintained their four-point lead at the top of the Debswana First Division South table with a late winner at home to Red Sparks on Saturday.

Having been second best for much of the match, the league leader’s secured the points thanks to Kabo Ngongorego’s calm strike in the dying minutes of the game.

The 1-0 triumph was the ‘Samba Boys’ eighth consecutive victory – a remarkable run considering they lost their first two fixtures of the season!

With just one game to go until the halfway point in the season, Fighters are perfectly poised to gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League after a six-year absence.

However, speaking to Voice Sport after his side’s hard fought win, Fighters Coach Otlaadisa Mohambi, stressed he would not get carried away by their current form.

“There is still a long way to go hence we cannot relax and say we have won the league. We are going to keep working hard until we reach our ultimate goal which is to be promoted to the elite league!” said Mohambi.

For Red Sparks, the result overshadowed a decent performance in which they enjoyed plenty of possession and created numerous goal-scoring chances but lacked a killer edge up front. 

This will be especially puzzling to Sparks’ Coach Thaloba Nthaga. Despite losing half of their games this season, Nthaga’s troops are actually the division’s second top scorers having found the back of the net 13 times – two less than Fighters.

“I think we did everything well but we were just unlucky to have lost this game right at the end. However, I feel there is no difference between us and Fighters, they are just fortunate to have won the match!” reflected Nthaga, whose side would have moved up to fifth in the table with a win.

Elsewhere, Masitaoka edged out Mochudi Rovers 1-0 to ensure they finish the week in second place. Breathing down their necks just a point behind are Union Flamengo Santos, who hammered bottom placed Ncojane Young Stars 4-0. 

Mochudi Centre Chiefs returned to winning ways after a six game winless run, beating Broadhurst United 1-0 at home, a scoreline that was repeated by Matebejana away at Holy Ghost. 

The final game of the weekend saw Jwaneng Fighters and Black Forest play out a goalless draw.

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