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Shootout in the south

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*Top two clash in First Division South

Saturday is set to be a defining day in the Debswana First Division South as the top two teams clash in Mogoditshane.

The race for promotion to the Premier League took an unexpected twist last weekend when league-leader’s Masitaoka suffered a 1-0 loss at home to relegation-threatened Jwaneng Fighters.

The result, Masitaoka’s first defeat after a run of seven consecutive victories, combined with Mogoditshane Fighters’ emphatic 3-1 destruction of Matebejana means Maja Tlhaga’s lead at the top is down to just two points.

It adds even more weight to a fixture that pits the league’s best defence – Masitaoka have conceded eight goals in 15 outings – against its best attack – Mogoditshane have found the back of the net 21 times.

The last time the two sides met, back in October, Mogoditshane ran out 2-1 winners. Another close contest is expected at the dusty Solomon Dihutso grounds on Saturday.

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, respected local pundit Kagiso Phatsimo admitted that, with seven games still left to play, the title race is too close to call.

Phatsimo was quick to praise the high-flying Molepolole outfit, who only secured their place in the second tier at the start of the season by buying Black Peril’s league status.

“Masitaoka has been the most impressive team in the league thus far. Their coach, Nelson Olebile, is calm and knows exactly what he is doing!” noted Phatsimo, describing Maja Tlhaga’s loss to Jwaneng as ‘an eye-opener’.

Turning his attention to a Mogoditshane side looking to return to the elite league after a seven-year absence, the footie expert said, “I cannot rule out Fighters because they are one of the most experienced team when it comes to First Division Football.”

As for Saturday’s top of the table encounter, Phatsimo expects the league leader’s to claim the points.

“It is entirely upon Masitaoka to bounce back to winning ways but it is not going to be easy against Fighters. It is a tough match to predict but I foresee Masitaoka walking away with this one.”

As for the state of the First Division South, an impressed Phatsimo said, “I think FDS is better organised than the BTC Premiership, where there are constant and unnecessary changes of fixtures. The quality that we see every weekend [in the FDS] encourages fans to come to the matches – the grounds are always packed!”

A big crowd is certainly anticipated for a showdown in the south with potentially epic consequences.

FDS WEEKEND FIXTURES

(All games to be played Saturday)

Jwaneng Fighters v Ncojane Young Stars

Holy Ghost v Mochudi Rovers

Mochudi Centre Chiefs v Matebejana

Broadhurst United v Black Forest

Union Flamengo Santos v Red Sparks

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Back with a bang

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“BNSC and BNOC should merge”~ Sebego

Newly appointed Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson, Tebogo-LebotseSebego wants, both BNSC and BNOC (Botswana National Olympic Committee) to merge.

In an interview with Voice Sport on Wednesday, the newly appointed sports administrator said the merger of the two bodies would serve sports better.

“There would be better coordination and more managed collaboration from grassroots to elite. So on the face of that view, I’m inclined to support a one sport body institution,” said Sebego.

An experienced administrator and a former national team player who served netball at various levels for 35 years, Sebego brought the curtains down on her illustrious career last year.

She resigned as the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) President in 2017 after 10 years at the helm, and also stepped down as Africa Netball President last year after nine years.

The recipient of the Presidential Certificate of Honour and the AUSC Region 5 Meritorious Service Award, Sebego took over from Tsoseletso Magang who temporarily held the position until the former’s appointment this Monday.

Initially, Sebego was appointed by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare as an expert in Communications and Sports Administration in December.

It was during her presidency that Botswana hosted the Netball World Youth Cup in 2017 (NWYC2017), the first International Netball Federation World Cup in Africa.

Speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday afternoon, Sebego said she was excited with the appointment and wished to sincerely thank her colleagues in the Board for their vote of confidence.

“It’s an honor to get a seat at the table where crucial decisions to craft the future of Botswana sport will be formulated,” said a visibly elated Sebego.

The selfless administrator told Voice Sport that the only way for athletes to excel is to proactively manage and nurture an ecosystem that supports excellence holistically.

“When the system from technical preparations to mental health are intentional, we should see better results, Sebego said with some conviction.

“This is an area I would like to see better managed. Having sat on an international board of a sports body allows me to share my acquired skills and experience on the duty of care the Board has towards sports,” she said.

On how she feels about her critics who see her appointment as recycling of sports personnel, Sebego
said it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to find her worthy of the BNSC appointment.

“Views are relative and influenced by different interpretations to issues based on people’s own realities,” fired Sebego.

“In my reality, I gave netball the best of my abilities at most times, I’ve no life shattering regrets on how the sport was positioned when I was President,” Sebego concluded calmly.

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GU push Miscellaneous to the basement

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Gaborone United (GU) continued an impressive start to 2020 under the tutelage of Caretaker Coach Pontsho Piro  Moloi as they thumped Miscellaneous 2-0 in a BTC Premiership clash over the weekend.

The flawless victory was the third consecutive feat for the youthful coach who took over the reigns at Moyagoleele recently, determined to turn around their league fortunes.

Thatayaone Kgamanyane’s 13th minute solo goal gave ‘The Reds’ an advantage going into the break.

Kekaetswe Mara Moloi’s goal confirmed GU’s victory in the 69th minute, further sinking Miscellaneous into ground zero of the relegation quagmire.

The Serowe side is now languishing at the bottom of the league table with 9 points and is left with 11 games ahead of the season’s final analysis.

Speaking after the game an elated Moloi said although he was impressed with the victory, he had expected his charges to perform much better.

He said the boys are better than what they displayed on the day.

He however attributed much of the success to positive attitude and support by some of the senior players and peers such as Joel Mogorosi, Mara Moloi and Lesego Galenamotlhale.

“The boys work and understand each other better. They respect me as their coach and use my instructions wisely. It is quite easier for me because I am one of them as some are my former team mates and some have watched me play,” said Moloi

The Coach said he was impressed with the performance of midfielder Misani Thupa, a close season’s capture from Extension Gunners who played the last 20 minutes of the game.

 He said the player is coming up well, very quick on the ball and that it was unfortunate he did not score.

For his part, ‘Tse Nala’ Coach, Chippa Koolese said he remained hopeful that they can still survive relegation.

He said the gap between Miscellaneous and other teams they are chasing is slim and that they still have the chance to move away from the red zone.

His plan for the day, Koolese said, had been to deny GU ball possession in the middle of the park as they have good midfielders, but they failed.

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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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