Saturday, January 23, 2021

Closely contested Premier League affair

Just before the break for the festive season, a quarter of the games have already been played and there is still no clear cut or obvious team which people believe stands a good chance of eventually lifting the trophy and P1 million.

The way things stand, it would not be surprising if the winner is decided in the last games.
Compared to the last three seasons, it was clear from the onset that certain teams were en-route to be crowned champions.

It all started with Police XI, under the tutelage of Sthandwa Mogwadi and, a season latter, it was ECCO City Greens.
Last season, it was Kgatleng outfit, Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

All the three teams were really unstoppable but as things stand now, it looks like everybody can be stopped and tamed. What could also be taken note of is the fact that the trio won the league for the first time in their existence.

When the current campaign started, GU started on a high note, winning most of their games and many people thought they would emulate Centre Chiefs and win the championship without a single loss. Surprisingly, BDF XI, walloped them 2-1 last week in a game that was too tactical.

Although GU won their last game before the Christmas break against BMC by a solo goal, but they were still not that convincing. Currently, all the teams at the top have lost games and the race is still wide open.

All the top eleven teams have the potential to challenge for honours. The teams also do not have respect for one another. This then means when the transfer window gets underway, it is the one that is going to finally determine which way the teams go. It is a time for those teams that do not have depth to reinforce and even for those that have players to keep on holding to them.

The top teams that have so far come under scrutiny are Centre Chiefs and BDF XI, the reason being that they are still using older players who night find it hard to cope as the league approaches its climax. What disadvantages Centre Chiefs the most is that last season, the team was on a war path, winning everything that was on offer.
This season, they are still using the very same players and some are obviously tired.

The other factor that might disadvantage Centre Chiefs is that even when they reinforce, the new players might take time to get used to each other.
The old horses in the Centre Chiefs’ line-up are, Michael Mohaladi, Mpho Mabogo, James Kachinga, Gavin Mpundu, and Tshepo Motlhabankwe and Oteng Moalosi. Since these players make the backbone of the team, it might be a huge blow when one gets injured or gets suspended. What is of concern is that, at Chiefs, there are no younger players who would immediately be thrown into play. The few available ones are very inexperienced and are rarely given a chance. BDF XI, on the other hand, have old horses like, Ernest Amos, Mompati Thuma, Donald Thobega, Masego Nchingane and Nelson ‘Viola’ Gabolwelwe.

Thuma is the only player who looks to still have a lot of energy and pace. Amos, Thobega and Nchingane have lost pace while Gabolwelwe’s engine is slowly fading. It has proven in the past games that when facing quicker and slippery players, Amos, Nchingane and Thobega just chase their shadows. Their experience is vital but it is about time that young defenders, like Gaopatwe ‘Shoes’ Seosenyeng, are given a chance.

The young lad has already proven himself at the national Under 20 where he was a marvel to watch.
Replacing old horses might, however, not be a headache for coach Mwaanga because there are many good players at the teams, especially from the reserve side but inexperience might be a challenge. For GU, it is a matter of holding on to their players and keep focused. However, GU have shown that they over rely on one player, Tshepo Molefhe in the midfield, and once he is tightly marked out, the rhythm of the team is affected.
One would also wonder why youthful and skilled Ntesang ‘Mirror’ Shaimanyana is rarely given match time, yet every time he comes on he makes a huge difference.

Rollers, on the other hand, have also a pool of players to choose from and chances of losing them are slim. The major concern for the team is the central defence, which is yet to be bolstered since Thebeetsile ‘Mkhari’ Raditsebe left.

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