Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Are Rollers imports good enough?

Recently, there has been a lot of debate in the country about the quality of foreign players that descend on Botswana, especially into the Premier League. Most foreign players of today are seen as performing below par compared to those who graced it in the late eighties and nineties. Nowadays most foreign players can hardly impress a team to last long; most are given the boot for poor performance long before their contracts expire.
Currently, the Mascom Premier League’s leading goal scorers’ table is led by locals, something that was unusual in the past.
Only a few teams, especially those at the top of the Premier league, have some excellent foreigners who are making their mark in every game they play. Teams like Ecco City and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are typical examples.
Township Rollers is one team that used to have a tradition of signing top foreign players who were always talk of the league. Players that come to mind are the likes of Joseph Chikoti, Owen Mbewe and Webster Kurwaisimba.
The crop that came later failed to leave up to expectations. Currently, the team has the trio of Zulian Phiri, Edwin Kamwinbwa and Patrick Kasongo who are not lifting the team to the desired position.
By its standard, Rollers is not in a good position in the league, and playing four games without pocketing maximum points is something that can be an insult to its supporters. Supporters always pay their hard earned cash only to come with their heads bowed down after the games.
Normally, when the going gets tough, all eyes are always glued on the foreign players to deliver. The question is whether Rollers imports from Zambia are doing enough to help the team gun for honours? The duo of Kasongo and Kamwimba seem to be lacking consistency while Phiri does not have a powerful engine that can allow him to run on the pitch for the duration of the whole game nonstop. Phiri is also lacking that power punch he had when he was playing for Mochudi Centre Chiefs. At Chiefs, Phiri was an important nerve, especially in the midfield where his combination with Zacharia Mudzazi was deadly. Kasongo also seems to be only strong in the air but when it comes to using both his feet to finish up, he seems lethargic.
On the other hand, Township Rollers former skipper and loyal player, Mmoni ‘States’ Segopolo, believes their foreign legion is good, but the unfortunate thing is that results are not coming. He expressed hope that, as time goes on, the players will tick and results would come forward.
“The most unfortunate thing about Rollers is that we are not doing well as a team and obviously supporters are not happy with that. I also think not only our foreign players should be put under pressure but the whole team in general. We need to stand up and deliver so that we can catch teams like Ecco City Green and Centre Chiefs, or else the league will once again elude us as was the case last season.”
Segopolo also added that in the past Rollers had deadly foreign strikers who were always delivering. He singled out the late Chikoti who always rescued the team when the going was tough. He said even though the current crop is not a match to Chikoti, they must be given a chance because they have not even stayed a season at the team.
Some Rollers supporters, however, are not happy at the level of their foreign players’ contribution. This came to light on Thursday at the team’s training ground. Some supporters feel that the best way for the team to get results is for the management to go into the transfer market and look for good foreign players. The supporters also said all the teams that are doing well in the league have good foreign players. One of the teams they mentioned was BDF XI, which has Zambian Bernard Simakwenzi.
“Most of the foreign players in this country are from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe. The disparity between those countries and Botswana is no longer that wide and Rollers must consider heading to West African countries. The team also just got sponsorship from Orange and they must make full use of it”, quipped one supporter who called himself Sam.
Sam also told The Sunday Standard that the team a consistent first choice team, something he said is contributing to the team’s unimpressive play.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.