BR Highlanders coach, Kabelo Dintwe, has cast blame on his team’s too many draws in the 2014/15 season as the reason for their relegation to the first division. Just a season into the top flight, BR Highlanders have beaten a swift retreat back into the first division north following a 0 ÔÇô 1 loss to Gaborone United (GU) this past Sunday.
A 90th minute solitary strike by GU’s Namibian marksman, Benson Shilongo, was enough to seal the Mahalapye outfit’s fate back to the abyss of first division. In the 28 games they have played so far in the elite league, BR Highlanders have won only two games, lost thirteen and drawn a further thirteen games. Of ‘Stimela’s only two league wins, the first came early in the first round of the league when they beat Green Lovers 2 ÔÇô 0 at the Serowe Sports Complex in August last year, while the last was a famous 2 ÔÇô 1 win over league leaders Township Rollers at the Molepolole Sports Complex in January this year. Highlanders’ thirteen draws leave them as the only team with the highest number of draws this season, closely followed by title contenders Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Orapa United who have 10 and 9 draws respectively.
“We had too many draws. If you look at all the games we have played so far in the season, we got too many draws. That is what led to our relegation,” Dintwe said when asked what could have led ‘Stimela’ straight back to the first division. Against GU on Sunday afternoon, Highlanders looked set for another draw and a prolonged stay of execution, that is until Shilongo’s decisive strike scuppered all their survival dreams and sent them packing, even before they could play their last two games of the season. Given their fast u-turn and financial struggles that come with relegation to the lower league division, Dintwe is not too optimistic of his team’s capability to quickly bounce back into the elite league.
“When you are relegated to the lower divisions, you then lose most of the players you used in the Premier League. You then have to start rebuilding and recruit new players, which makes it difficult to quickly bounce back into the Premier League,” Dintwe opined. He said while they would have liked to retain the core of their team to ensure they quickly bounce back to the league, financial struggles would hinder them.
“Even if we had intentions of retaining the core of our players so that we make a quick return to the league, the main issue will be paying salaries. Once you go to the first division, you cannot pay players the same salaries they earned while in the Premier League and as thus, most of them will leave the team,” Dintwe explained.