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Rough diamonds

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Orapa and Galaxy clash again after fractious first-leg

Having come to blows in a bad-tempered first leg two weeks ago, diamond brothers Orapa United and Jwaneng Galaxy go to war again this Saturday.

With a place in the Mascom Top8 final up for grabs, and the tie evenly poised at 1-1, tensions are expected to rise once again.

An absorbing opening encounter descended into chaos midway through the second half when a mass on-field brawl broke out between the two teams.

Although it is not clear what sparked the scrap – with neither manager wanting to talk about it after the game – it appears Galaxy players took exception at ‘an item’ left in the Orapa goal.

The unseemly scuffle overshadowed what had been a high quality affair, which Galaxy briefly led courtesy of a 19th minute strike from Lesenya Malepela.

Orapa hit back five minutes later, Lawrence Ndunga finding the back of the net to send the Ostriches travelling supporters home happy.

They will now look to finish the job at Itekeng Stadium. Having beaten Galaxy 2-0 at the same venue in the league back in December, the boys from Boteti know exactly what it takes to beat their Jwaneng-based siblings.

However, the teams go into Saturday’s clash on the back of mixed results.

Orapa fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to Gaborone United whilst Galaxy thrashed BR Highlanders 4-0 to replace their diamond brothers at the top of the league.

Speaking to Voice Sport, Galaxy’s charismatic captain, Thabo Leinanyane said reaching a third Top8 final is one of their priorities for the season.

“Our aim is to reach the finals and we are not going to allow Orapa to deny us that opportunity. We are going all the way to Itekeng for a win,” declared the no-nonsense right back, whose side are looking to become the first team to defend their title in the lucrative competition’s nine-year history.

Paying homage to his opponents, the 26-year-old added, “Orapa are a very strong side, especially when they are home as their pitch is small. But we are not going to give them space to play as they can be lethal at times.

“In addition, the boys morale is high because we coming into the game on the back of a great win. But we will put that to the back of our minds because we now in a cup competition and we have to win it.”

Leinanyane’s opposite number, centerback Thabang Mosige told Voice Sport confidence amongst the squad was high.

“We are more than ready for Galaxy as we have been hard at work. The mood in camp is also impressive. Furthermore, we are not going to play a defensive approach which we adopted when we went to Jwaneng. We are going to attack them until the final because we want to be in that final as well.”

Quizzed on the side’s shock loss to GU and the impact it might have, Mosige responded immediately, “For now our focus is to win against Galaxy this weekend in cup competition, and GU loss is now in the past. We plan to beat Galaxy and go through to the finals.”

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Return of the MAK?

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Return of the MAK?

Former President set for BFA comeback

Botswana Football Association (BFA) look set to retrace their steps, dipping 12-years into their past as they reportedly seek former President Phillip Makgalemele’s return.

It seems the association want Makgalemele back in the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – a position currently occupied by Mfolo Mfolo.

Mfolo, who joined Lekidi in 2017, had his two-year contract renewed last September and is generally believed to be doing a decent job.

However, he remains on secondment from the Ministry of Tertiary Education and his appointment has always been viewed as temporary.

It is believed the BFA view Makgalemele as the ideal candidate to take over.

The one-time Minister of Sports – he took over briefly last year following Tshekedi Khama’s resignation – has a proud history with the sporting body, having served as President from 1998 to 2008.

In an exclusive interview with Voice Sport this week, Makgalemele admitted he would be tempted by a return to Lekidi, especially as he is out of work at the moment.

He revealed he submitted his CV to a recruitment agency to help him find a job, either locally or internationally, and is specifically seeking a CEO position.

The job-hunting former President ruefully added he was recently called to interview for the role of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretary General but did not get the job.

“What I can confirm is that I am a servant of this country and any job that come in line with my qualifications I will definitely go for it. Football is my passion so I would not rule out possibilities of going back to Lekidi, that is if the position is available,” explained Makgalemele.

When reached for a comment, BFA Vice President, Marshlow Motlogelwa acknowledged they were yet to fill the CEO post themselves.

Although he stressed the association are pleased with the job Mfolo is doing, he conceded that if they can find a suitable candidate to replace him they would release him back to the Ministry of Tertiary Education.

The BFA has a checkered record when it comes to CEOs, with previous incumbents Tosh Kgotlele, Duncan Kgame, Judge Mookodi, Keith Masters, Ookeditse Malesu and Kitso Kemoeng all failing to complete their terms after falling foul of the association.

The man currently in the role, Mfolo, declined to discuss the matter when contacted by Voice Sport.

Meanwhile, when asked for an update on the possible resumption of football activities, Motlogelwa explained there are certain regulations that must be followed due to the contact nature of the sport.

“There are specific precautionary measures that we need to ensure all teams will comply with,” he said, noting it is particularly difficult as most teams train outdoors where members of the public can pass by and fans regularly stop to watch training, potentially putting players at risk of catching Covid-19.

“How are they going to keep register of visitors? In some countries they have better training facilities that can be locked when players are training. It is going to be impossible for cleaning and disinfection of shared spaces. Our teams already have financial problems some of the requirements are going to be expensive. We are currently working on a proposal of how best we can adhere to the requirements,” stated a slightly exasperated Motlogelwa.

Last week the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) approved the resumtion of non-contact sporting activities.

Individual codes like athletics, badminton, cycling, darts, karate (individual kata), motor sport and tennis are now allowed to train.

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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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