After denials that Philemon Makwengwe had quit his job as Prisons XI’s head coach on Monday, the inevitable happened on Tuesday.
‘Da Phil,’ as the affable tactician is affectionately known, had not just dumped ‘The Warders,’ he had renewed his love affair with Gaborone United (GU).
Finally forced to concede defeat in their charm offensive to keep Makwengwe, Prisons XI would finally accept the unavoidable.
In his confirmation, Prisons XI Public Relations Officer (PRO) Oagile Kojane, highlighted that there was no bad blood but rather ‘he left them in the run for a better offer and in a place where he felt better at home.’
For those in football circles, the news that Makwengwe had rejoined ‘Moyagoleele,’ as GU is known, came as no surprise.
Makwengwe and GU have in the past had a ‘flaming’ but short love affair, which as love stories go, was cut short by ‘current commitments.’
Still in the employ of Botswana Football Association (BFA) back in April 2012, Makwengwe was called on by GU to take charge for their last twelve games of the season after the teams had sacked its then coach Elvis Chiweshe.
Coincidentally, these last run of GU’s last 12 league games included a run in the then Coca Cola cup. In those few games in charge, Da Phil defied expectation as he won ten (10) of GU’s last games, losing one and drawing one.
To cap off the highly charged but short romance, Makwengwe then gave GU an ultimate love gift as he won them the Coca Cola, which was on its last edition. It was also GU’s first Coca Cola trophy since the tournament had started many years before.
Now as GU struggled to find feet in the 2018/19 league season, as it was back when he took over for a short stint in 2012, it was perhaps the nostalgia of that season romance which led them back into the loving hands of Makwengwe.
Asked on the matter, GU’s Chairman Boitumelo Nsunge indeed confirmed that Makwengwe has joined them as a head coach.
“We have not been having a coach for some time now and we are glad that we got one. Our main aim is to secure a spot in Top 8 because we did not start the season well,” he added.
According to Nsunge, Makwengwe’s return to GU is not inspired by monetary returns as the coach will be getting paid less than what Prisons XI was offering him, saying it is rather ‘his ambition that brought him back.’
“We have so much faith in him because we have worked with him before, we know his capabilities,” Nsunge explained. “We have sat down and broke down our plans to him, and it is an ambitious team that he will be dealing with, something that won his heart,” he added.
The GU chairman said as a committee intending to rebuild GU and take it back to glory days, they have eyed Makwengwe as the man to help them.
“We are half way through the season and we have analysed our team, realised our weaknesses as such we need to capitalise on those and map a better way forward,” he said.
“We need to give Township Rollers competition and we are bringing back the old money machine slaughtering team. Rollers as it seems has no competition, only teams like us and Centre Chiefs can tackle it, and we are bringing war,” Nsunge narrated.
In Makwengwe, Nsunge said they want to win cups and not to fight relegation. He said, “We are somehow at the bottom of the league and we are positive that this coach (Makwengwe) will bring desired results and execute plans intensively.”
Weighing in on the matter, local football observer and writer Kagiso Kgaogane highlighted that it was bound to happen for Makgwekgwe to up and leave as it is in his nature.
He noted that it has been a tough time for Makwengwe at Prisons XI and results were far from good as would have been expected.
“Clearly he has done his part at Prisons and it was time for him to move on. The players could no longer respond to his guidance and had lost their hunger to succeed,” Kgaogano said.
With Makwengwe having issues at Prisons XI and GU having their own issues, Kgaogano believes it was just a matter of time before the two renewed their love affair.