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I’m not a juju man

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*Mwanga returns to Francistown after 15 years

In 2005, after guiding Ecco City Greens to a ninth-placed finish in the St Louis Premier League, Zambian born coach Stanley Mwanga headed south to take up a new challenge as the Head Coach of Gaborone United.

The well-travelled trainer has not lived in the second city since.

Now, 15 years later, Mwanga is back in the city that made him.

The 62-year-old was appointed Tafic Sporting Club’s Head Coach on 1st January, replacing Zimbabwean mentor Saul Chaminuka.

Mwanga pulled a shocker when he resigned as Extension Gunners coach on Christmas Eve.

“I left Gunners simply because they were not paying me,” explained Mwanga in an exclusive interview with Voice Sport on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was an honour and a privilege to coach Gunners but I had gone for six months without pay,” stated the veteran tactician.

Although they parted on a sad note, Mwanga speaks fondly of the Lobatse giants. After just six month with the team, he believes they are the best supported side in the country.

“It’s visible everywhere – from the taxi drivers to the women who sell on the streets, Gunners is a big team!” he said.

After playing a total of 15 matches, winning five, drawing two and losing eight, Mwanga left the Lobatse outfit with 11 points and precariously placed in 11th place, just one point above the relegation zone.

Ironically, one of the victories was a 5-1 thrashing of Tafic back in November.

Incidentally, the Francistowners are also on 11 points and currently lie 13th in the log, a point above Notwane and Molepolole City and five points above rock bottom Miscellaneous.

“Even though we defeated them, I was impressed with the way Tafic played. If you know me well, I’m all about putting the ball on the ground and quick transitions. That is why I rejected other offers and took this job.”

The journeyman tactician, who has coached teams such as Township Rollers, BDF XI, Prisons XI, Motlakase Power Dynamos, Miscellaneous and Uniao Flamingo Santos, is under no illusions at the mammoth task ahead.

“It’s not a good position to be in. But I’ve been around long enough to know what is required of me. My wish is to see Tafic remaining in the league and then see what will happen in the 2020/21 season,” said Mwanga, who ruefully admits that because of the unpredictable nature of football, there’s no guarantee he’ll still be at Tafic next season even if he performs well.

“When I took over at BDF XI in 2009, they were 14th on the log and I guided them to a fourth placed finish. However, I was still fired at the end of the season because management felt I should have won the league,” he recalled animatedly, the 11-year-old memory clearly still festering.

Mwanga maintains that a similar fate befell him during his reign at Ecco City Greens, where he laid the foundations for the club’s history-making 2006/07 League triumph.

“We were doing well, but management decided to rope in Barry Dakar because I refused to use juju,” he said before exclaiming solemnly, “I’m a Christian, not a juju man!”

The Reds’ faithful supporters will be desperate for their new messiah’s prayers to be answered to save their team from the dreaded axe.

Matjiminyenga has been in and out of the elite league in the last decade.

Since finishing as runners up by a single point to LCS Gunners in 1992/93 season, their highest ever finish, the Reds have never looked like Championship material.

Can a man who himself has never won the league bring back the glory days?

Mwanga believes he can.

In fact he tells Voice Sports that he was close to winning the league in 1994 as a player/coach with the now defunct Tasc FC.

“We lost it on the last day. I remember it was a double header at the National Stadium. Log leaders Gunners were up against Notwane and we squared off against BMC. Sadly we drew 1-1 while Gunners won 2-1 to be crowned the 1993/94 Champions,” recalled Mwanga, before leaping from the past to the present and turning his attention to the task at hand.

“I’ve looked at the players at Tafic – there’s talent there and with time, this team can be a formidable side,” he said, glancing at his watch for the umpteenth time.

It was time for the veteran’s midday nap, before his afternoon training session.

Tafic’s long-suffering fans will be hoping Mwanga can rouse the sleeping giants from their long slumber.

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BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend

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BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend

On Monday Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC), Tumiso Rakgare revealed the government’s plan to help the elite and second-tier leagues with player’s salary subsidies respectively.

Minister Rakgare stated that 25 players of all the 16 teams in the BTC premiership will be paid P2, 500 whilst first division players will each receive P1, 500 for the months of April. May and June.

Teams were expected to submit the required documentation for verification and due processes this week.

The Minister said it was inevitable for government to intervene as sports was the first discipline to be affected by Covid-19, citing the Mares Under 17 trip to Morocco that never materialized.

The Mares were scheduled to face their Moroccan counterparts for a return leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifier in March.

He further revealed that the subsidy is part of the P70 million set aside by the ministry to cushion the impact of Covid-19.

BFA welcomes COVID-19 stipend
SPORTS MINISTER: Rakgare

“The subsidy is only for Batswana players, technical and office staff and monies will be directly deposited to player’s bank accounts to avoid situations where teams might use such funds for their daily expenses,” he said.

He further revealed that referees will be assisted through the FIFA relief fund as agreed with BFA.

Letshwiti hailed the intervention, which he said will cushion the effects of the pandemic on the socio- economic lifestyles of players and technical members involved in running of the clubs.

“This will also go a long way in giving club leaders a reprieve during this challenging time,” he said.

The BFA President said club leaders and owners are custodians of football events and this financial assistance is critical in sustaining players and eventually the clubs they represent.

“The BFA is truly humbled by this noble gesture of unity. We have since availed P40,000 to BPL clubs as a reprieve to help clubs mitigate these devastating consequences,” he saud.

He further said, together with their partners, including government, they continue to discuss sustainable means to get football out of the woods.

“We truly are encouraged by the posture adopted by Honorable Minister Rakgare in finding the most reasonable and practical solution to the problems football faces in the country,” Letshwiti said.

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Teranga lions’ world cup legend retires

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Teranga lions’ world cup legend retires

Montpellier’s veteran former Senegal attacker Souleymane Camara has retired after 13 seasons with the side, club president Laurent Nicollin said on Monday.

Camara, 37, played a record 423 times for the outfit where he won the Ligue 1 title in 2012 and made the last of his 35 international appearances in the same year.

“We spoke on Friday and the decision was taken,” Nicollin told A French newspaper.

“He’s now thinking about what he’ll do next. We’ve given him some time to know what he wants to do, if he wants to coach here. We’ve left the door open,” he added.

Camara started his career with Monaco in 2001 before a loan spell at Guingamp and joining Nice four years later.

He was part of the Senegal squad which beat the then holders France en route to the historic 2002 World Cup quarter-finals.

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