Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Coca-Cola sponsorship proves to be consistent and durable

The Coca-Cola Cup is arguably the biggest tournament in Botswana.
Other tournaments have come and gone while it has managed to soldier on since its inauguration in 1992.

This year, the tournament has been won by Township Rollers and that means they are the only team to win the tournament more than any other team in Botswana.

Rollers won it for a record five times while Notwane, a team that comes immediately behind them, won it three times.

Rollers started the Coca-Cola glory in 1993 when they beat their long time rivals, Gaborone United, 4-1 in a tense match.

Prominent players from Rollers at that time were Zambian internationals, Joseph Chikoti, Owen Mbewe, and Moses Siame. Locals comprised of Thabo Motang, Mmoni Segopolo, Desmond Molefhe and Keitumetse Paul.

The great Rollers team repeated the Coca-Cola glory the following year. In 1994, they trounced other rivals who were untouchable by then, Extension Gunners by 2-0.

Motang played a crucial role then by saving a penalty. At that time, both teams were tied at zero zero and had Gunners scored, anything could have happened.
Gunners were no easy walkovers and Rollers had to sweat blood. Gunners then had players like Zambian Francis Chisenga, Itumeleng Duiker, Solly Moipolai and Morris Mauco.

In 1995 Rollers failed to defend their title under controversial circumstances. They were knocked out by BDF XI in the last 16 but consoled themselves by winning the league.

In 1996 Rollers were once again back with a bang by winning the Coca-Cola Cup again for the third time in four years. Rollers ended up beating BMC 2-0, despite a terrific fight from the meat boys but tournament inexperience cost them.

Great players of BMC included the likes of Collen Zulu, Jones Mfakose, Buti Kgodungwe and Jack Gotlop.

1996 would be Rollers’ last triumphant year and they had to wait for nine years. They lost many players due to ageing and to some lucrative leagues in South Africa.

The typical example is Joseph Chikoti who joined Wits University and left a void that took Rollers many years to fill. That was also the time when issues of community and constitutional teams started to heighten up.

The road was definitely tough for Rollers as they endured a long period of dryness and ended up being relegated to the First Division in 2002. They then came back with a bang in 2005 as they won the Coca-Cola Cup again and doubled it up with winning the league.
Rollers defeated BDF XI 3-1.

They came up with relatively new players who were hungry for success; players like Phenyo Mongala, Moemedi Moatlhaping, Thapelo Balepi, Nelson Sefedile and Lesego Molemogi.

The senior players then were Tshephiso Molwantwa and Segopolo. Some Rollers players attracted interest from some South African teams and Mongala, together with Moatlhaping, ended up joining the Premier League side, Platinum Stars.

When Rollers were looking forward to defending their title in 2006, controversy broke up again in the semi-finals. BDF XI player, Bernard Simakwenzi, was alleged to be a defaulter and was barred from playing in a match Rollers won 3-0.

BDF XI appealed and a replay was ordered, but Rollers failed to honour it and BDF were given a passage to the finals. Rollers had to go for another four barren years, up until this year when they won it by thrashing other bitter rivals, Mochudi Center Chiefs 3-1.

It was a thrilling match that had to go to extra time after both teams were level at a goal apiece.
The man who catapulted Rollers to the championship is none other than Zimbabwean international, Terrence Mandaza, who had been in terrific form and ended up as the leading goalscorer in the tournament with nine goals. Mandaza is also the leading goalscorer in the league with 31 goals.
Other players who made invaluable contributions are goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe, Itayi Gwandu, Joel Mogorosi, Edwin Olerile and Edwin Moalosi.


Read this week's paper