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Corona brings sports to its knees

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BFA face possible fine from FIFA

Botswana Football Association (BFA) could face the wrath of football’s governing body FIFA, over the cancellation of the U17 girls’ second leg World Cup Qualifiers in Morocco.

The girls were supposed to leave on Tuesday morning aboard a bus and connect at OR Tambo in Johannesburg, on their way to Rabat-Morocco.

The football association called off the trip following an instruction from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development.

According to a communique from the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) released on Wednesday, the government took a decision to cancel all planned external travel of Botswana national teams and the hosting of any international teams until further notice.

BNSC states in the press release that the decision was taken as a precautionary measure to protect local sports persons from possible infection by the virus and to reduce its possible spread to Botswana.

When reached for a comment the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kago Ramokate confirmed that they sent the letter through BNSC. He said all the sports codes have been affected by the decision.

“We are talking about minors. If it was a senior national team, maybe they’d have been allowed to travel and compete. We have also stopped hosting of other countries for sports events. We are aware of the consequences but sport codes know how they will put it to their governing bodies,” said Ramokate.

Earlier this week BFA released a statement indicating that due to situations beyond their control, the Morocco trip had to be cancelled.

Voice Sport learned that BFA’s hands were tied as they couldn’t come out clear and state that the decision to cancel the trip was taken by government.

The football governing body does not allow government interference in football matters.

The outbreak of the Corona Virus has affected sporting activities across the world, with big tournaments such as UEFA Champions League played in empty stadia.

Due extent of the outbreak in Italy which has forced the Serie A to be played in closed doors, there’s also uncertainty over the 2020 European Championships.

Back home parents of the players of the U17 girls registered their concerns with the association after Morocco confirmed their first corona death on Tuesday.

The 89 year old woman who lived in Casablanca entered Morocco from Italy’s Bologna.

Morocco has since canceled all trips to and from Italy and banned fans from attending football matches.

The northern African state further canceled events involving foreign travelers and gatherings of more than 1,000 people as precautionary measures to avert an outbreak of the virus.

Speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday, BFA President Maclean Letshwiti said they have since written a letter to CAF stating their reasons to cancel the trip.

He denied that government interfered with the sport, stating that the ministry was just advising on athletes travel restrictions.

Letshwiti further said there are varying reasons as to why they could not divulge why the trip was cancelled.

“Corona Virus might be one of them. The government can only advice, not stop us from participating in international games,” Letshwiti said.

The BFA President further told Voice Sport he does not know how prepared the country is to deal with the virus in comparison to other countries who still take part in international competitions.

“There are lots of issues involved. Of course we are likely to be charged for failing to honour the fixture, but we have valid reason well explained in our letter to CAF,” he said.

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The rise of Piro

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*Football legend thriving in managerial hot seat

Having made his name as one of the country’s most successful footballers, Pontsho Piro Moloi is fast proving himself an equally accomplished coach.

The 38-year-old Gaborone United caretaker coach, who hung up his boots in 2016, has enjoyed a perfect start to life in the Money Machine hot seat, guiding the Reds to six wins out of six.

Despite his managerial inexperience, Moloi was handed the Moyagoleele reigns in January following the suspension of Phillimon Makwengwe.

It proved to be a masterstroke from the GU hierarchy.

The unassuming, softly-spoken Moloi has breathed new fire into the Gaborone giant’s, reigniting a title bid that looked all but extinguished at the start of the year.

Five points off table-topping Jwaneng Galaxy with ten games left to play – if the season ever resumes – GU are now serious contenders.

Moloi knows exactly what it takes to lift the league, having won it four times as a player during a glittering 10-year career with Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

The Magosi legend would earn himself a similar status with GU fans if he could lead the Reds to a first title in 11 years.

The former attacking midfielder’s ‘perfect six’ include league victories over both Orapa United and Township Rollers, as well as knocking the Ostriches, who were the defending champions, out of the Orange FA Cup to reach the quarter-finals.

Moloi’s laidback demeanour is in stark contrast to GU’s more animated coaches of the recent past, with the likes of Madinda Ndlovu, Rodolfo Zapata and even Makwengwe himself known for their touchline theatrics.

Indeed, giving instructions from the bench, clad in sunglasses, his hands tucked into his pockets, the mild-mannered Moloi looks an unlikely leader.

As the rest of the league are quickly learning, however, looks can be deceiving!

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, Moloi humbly attributed his team’s recent success to the ‘dedication, hard work and discipline’ of the players.

“It has not been an easy journey and credit must go to my boys. They have passion for the game and always do their best to bring results. Some of the players are my age mates, we played together so we understand each other better and some we even hang off the field,” said the man who won over 50 international caps with the Zebras.

Moloi was also quick to praise Makwengwe for his help and advice, stressing they have a ‘strong relationship’ and he regards the seasoned veteran as a mentor.

In his 14 years as a player, Moloi was famous for his flair and attacking intent. However, it is GU’s defence that have caught the eye since Moloi took over, with Mayagoleele keeping four clean sheets in six outings.

Another key element to GU’s stunning revival was Moloi’s shrewd signing of Lesego Galenamotlhale from Chiefs during the transfer window.

Since joining GU, the vastly experienced Galenamotlhale has formed a formidable partnership with club captain Alphanso Modisaotsile in the heart of the Red’s midfield.

“He has settled into the club brilliantly. Lesego took over the armband at Chiefs when I retired so I knew exactly what to expect from him and he has not disappointed!”

Turning his attention to a new addition at the other end of his career, Moloi likened exciting 22-year-old striker Misani Thupa, a summer signing from Extension Gunner, to a young Joel Mogorosi.

“He is very quick going forward, a very talented and fearless player. He is young, learning and I am impressed by his performance. With the guidance of Modisaotsile and Mogorosi, he is coming up well!” said the caretaker coach, who currently holds a CAF C Coaching Licence but plans to eventually go abroad to further his coaching credentials

“There are no courses locally,” he noted grimly.

With all local football suspended until at least the 10 April as Botswana and the world attempt to stop the spread of Coronavirus, local coaches would do well to use the time off coming up with a plan to stop Moloi and his rampant Reds.

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Table tennis youngsters gets national team nod

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Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA), held its third round of the national team selection matches where young players impressed and made the cut to the final squad which is expected to compete at the July 2020 Region 5 Games in Zimbabwe.

On the male section, an impressive 17 year old Sean Dekop of Nhabe Table Tennis Club won five of his seven matches, nudging Tshenolo Mooketsi, 21, on head to head count after defeating him in their mouth-watering tie.

This was enough for the two talented players to get the nod to represent the country at the upcoming Region 5 Games.

On the ladies’ side it was the duo of Olorato Ramagapu and Tshepiso Rebatenne who made the cut, leaving only two spots to be filled.

In an interview with Voice Sport this week, Mooketsi said the matches were really hard for him, “It was not an easy route to the national team. I faced seven tough opponents losing two matches in the process,” he said.

“I came back strong to win four games in a row, thanks to the motivation I got from my coaches who kept telling me that I could do it,” said the BDF Table Tennis Club player.

Voice Sport also caught up with the man of the moment, Dekop who said defeating one of the best table tennis players in Mooketsi was a big achievement for him, “I’m really happy to have finally made it to the senior national team and doing it in style as I defeated the number one ranked player along the way,” said a beaming Dekop.

“I however won’t be carried away by this victory. It’s still a learning curve, and I will not be big-headed but will focus on learning,” Dekop said.

With just two spots remaining, competition is expected to intensify in the fourth and final round of the selection matches, with more veteran players hoping to make the cut.

Smash Maniacs Table Tennis Club player and one of Botswana’s most decorated athlete Boitshwarelo Butale, 37, is still hopeful of making it into the squad.

“I’d be happy if I can be one of the players in the national team but if I don’t, the young girls such as Oratile Kedisaletse and Game Kebodiwang just to mention a few can do the job because they have been impressive, and the future is bright for the sport,” she said.

Meanwhile, the young Oratile Kedisaletse,20, from Nhabe Table Tennis Club said she is aware of the challenge she’ll be up against in the final round.

“I know what to expect from the likes of Butale and others but I believe I will proceed to the national team. I’ve been working really hard,” said the confident youngster.

Kedisaletse and others’s dreams to make the national team will however have to wait a little longer as BTTA has suspended all their sporting activities in an effort to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

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