Only a few games are left before the curtain falls on the grueling 2006/2007 Mascom Premier League. Despite the fact that it is still not clear which one of the teams will actually walk away with the championship honours, teams are already preparing for the next season in full force. Dirty tricks are also reported to be the order of the day as scouts try to entice players, by whatever means they can think of, to join their teams. Many teams are reported to have opened their cheque books, especially to two foreign internationals who have since taken the Premier League by storm. It has since come to the attention of The Sunday Standard that the cell phones of Zambian international, Bernard Simakwenzi, who plays for BDF XI, and Sageby Sandaka, who has revived Gaborone United (GU)’s fortunes, never stop ringing.
The demand for the players is also reported to be putting their respective teams, BDF XI and GU, respectively, under tremendous pressure. This means that their contracts have to be improved vastly or else they would be poached by other teams. Three big teams (known to The Sunday Standard) are already making serious bids for the two players. What is even intensifying the teams’ search for one of the players is that his contract is coming to an end and he has yet to renew it despite repeated pleas from his team to do so.
Sandaka took the Mascom Premier League by storm and even stands a chance to win the golden boot award. Despite coming at the start of the second round Sandaka has scored more than ten goals and is keeping the current leading goal scorers, Tshephiso Molwantwa and Mpho Mabogo on their toes.
Meanwhile GU Chairman, Kelisitse Gilika, denied any knowledge of his players being preyed on by other teams. He said even if it was to be the case, teams must follow proper procedures if they are interested in their players. Gilika was also adamant that all their key players would be available for next season because they are happy with what the team is offering them.
“Come next season, all our key players would be available and we will be challenging for honours. When we bought our international players we had in mind to go through four phases and currently we have achieved one. As you can se our team is doing well in almost all departments because of hard work. I can assure you that those teams that are preying on our players would hit a snag,” he said.
Gilika also said they had signed long term contracts with all their Zimbabwean internationals and that is one of the reasons they would not leave. He said their contracts expire at the end of the 2009/2010 season.
BDF XI coach, Stanley Tshosane, also shared Gilika’s sentiments. He said no team has formally approached them regarding Simakwenzi but did not rule out the possibility of other teams showing an interest in him. Tshosane also expressed optimism that Simakwenzi will be at BDF XI next season.
“Just recently, I had a chat with Simakwenzi regarding his controversial case. He told me that since the matter is now water under the bridge he is going to show his true colours next season wearing BDF XI colours. After the end of this season he would still have one year on his contract with us and I am optimistic he is going to finish it with us and even extend it,” Tshosane said.
Tshosane also added that the controversy that surrounded Simakwenzi affected him a lot and if it was not for that he could be a serious contender for the golden boot award.
Tshosane vowed that his team would fight to the bitter end because the race for the championship is still wide open despite Ecco City continuing to set the pace almost every week. He added that anything could happen in the remaining five games.
Tshosane also said with the exception of last season when Police XI won the championship, the league in Botswana has always been won in the last games and it might also be the case this season.