Gaborone United (GU)’s die hard supporters dub it ‘Moyagoleele o lefa ka marapo.’ It is a Setswana proverb that literally means that when a person is terminally ill, he or she might recuperate and become a healthier person ever.
The question among GU supporters is whether the team would leave up to its name following Thursday’s mouth watering sponsorship of P250 000 from both STC cleaning chemicals and Zac construction.
STC Cleaning Chemicals sponsored the team to the tune of P180 000 while Zac construction splashed out P70 000.
Before the sponsorship was acquired, it was a common occurrence for the team’s supporters to shed tears after almost every game they watched. The team is a shadow of its former self because each team in the Mascom Premier League is capable of collecting points from them, something that was difficult to do in its hey days, especially in the early and mid nineties.
Their current crop of players is no match for their yester year stars. From defence to the strike force, there is no cohesion. Even the multitudes of the team supporters that used to paint the city red are no longer there, and only a handful of them turn up for the games.
Many soccer pundits were already writing the team off and penciling it as one of the relegation candidates. GU also bounced back to the Premier League two seasons ago, after a five-year hiatus in the First Division.
With the extravagant sponsorship in place, the management believes it will boast the team and eventually challenge for the league honours. The Public relations officer of the team, Atamelang Thaga, told The Sunday Standard that GU is going to be untouchable in the second round of the league season.
“Obviously when a huge sponsorship like the one we got today comes on board, players are motivated. The money is going to help us run day to day activities of the team with little hassle. I can also assure our supporters that GU is going back to its old glory days and those so-called big teams must be wary of us because we will be coming with our guns blazing,” he said.
Thaga also added that challenging for the league championships is their priority. He said log leaders, Ecco City Green, might be leading them with more than 20 points, but mathematically they have a chance.
GU have so far acquired the services of three Zimbabweans that Thaga say match their past foreign legion. He said the trio is going to remind many GU supporters of deadly players like Mandla Balanda and Marco Tshuma.
The three players are Sageby Sandaka, Itai Kwandu and Edmore Mufema. Sandaka can be remembered for tearing Batswana hearts at the 2005 Council for Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) Castle Cup in Windhoek Namibia. Botswana was looking for their maiden Semifinal appearance and were trailing Zimbabwe by a goal.
When Botswana was trying hard to equalize Sandaka put the game beyond Botswana’s reach when he scored the second goal via a powerful shot that did not give Kagiso Tshelametsi a chance.
Thaga describes Kwandu as a defensive midfielder who does a lot of damage in the middle of the park. Thaga also holds high regard of Mufema as a striker of pedigree who is going to easily solve their goal scoring problems.
The sponsorship for GU runs for a period of one year.
The launch attracted several politicians of the country. Among them Minister of Youth, Culture and sports, Major General Moeng Pheto, Education Minister, Jacob Nkate, Members of Parliament for both Mogoditshane and Gaborone Central Patrick Masimolole and Dumelang Saleshando.
On his part, the Mogoditshane MP called for the team to put the resources to wiser use so that they can attract other sponsors. He also said sponsors like to be associated with winning teams and GU should not disappoint the two companies. Masimolole also said sponsorships do not come cheap because not every team has a sponsor in the Premier League. He said as such GU supporters, players and management should also utilise the resources of the two companies so that the two companies might be encouraged to continue sponsoring the team.
GU is the second Premier League team to clinch a sponsorship deal in less than a month. Three weeks ago cellular giants, Orange, sponsored Township Rollers to a tune of P150 000 for the year. Rollers sponsorship is subject for renewal.