Sunday, May 29, 2022

Defending a league title still a nightmare

It has once again proven to be difficult to defend the league title.
Many football pundits believed Mochudi Centre Chiefs would successfully defend the title, considering the deadly ammunition they had.

Centre Chiefs did not lose those players from the team that won the league the previous season. They, instead, re-enforced with more good players. Where it all went wrong is something many people are asking themselves.

On the other hand, Gaborone United (GU) just snatched the league from under the noses of Centre Chiefs and they did it with a squad many see as average compared to Centre Chiefs.

Centre Chiefs predecessors, like Ecco City Green and Police XI, also failed to defend the league title but many attributed this to the below average players the teams had.

Just like Ecco City Green, Chiefs did not participate in any African competitions but still failed to re-claim the title.

Teams that famously defended their titles include Township Rollers in the 80s and Gunners in the early 90s.
Gunners won it in 1992, 93 and 94, a record that looks will take decades to break.

On what they did which others teams are failing to emulate, former Gunners Manager, Rashid Chopdat, once told Sunday Standard they won titles in the office before going onto the pitch. He said they went for quality players they felt would help the team both locally and international.

Locally, Gunners had the likes of Itumeleng Duiker, Naphtally Kebalepile and Terrence Mphuting.

Internationally renowned ones included the likes of Edison Mulubwa, Francis Chisenga and Kennedy ‘Computer’ Jerry and were all from Zambia.

That meant Gunners participated in African competitions, something Chopdat said exposed his players that made them untouchable locally.

Obviously for a team like Centre Chiefs that lost the battle in the final league match to the eventual winners GU, it showed something was missing, which resulted in them losing where it mattered the most.

On the other hand, the technical officer of the Botswana Football Association, Philemon Makgwengwe, told Sunday Standard that teams never easily defend league titles, mainly because of poor planning.

He said since the league has just come to an end, this is the time teams should be already planning for the season ahead but it is just not the case.

“After winning the league title, teams forget that there is tomorrow and thus fail to defend tittles successfully. Our teams lack professional planning, which is used by many advanced countries. For instance, if you can go around and ask our teams whether they have pre-season plan, you will be shocked; how can teams be successful for a long period of time if they do not have proper planning in advance,” he said.

Makgwenge added that pre-season is a period whereby teams should correct the mistakes of last season and once pre-season training is not there such mistakes cannot be corrected.

When referring specifically to Centre Chiefs’ failure to defend the title despite the quality of players, Makgwengwe emphasised that quality does not guarantee success. He said there are certain technical elements that let the team down.

“If you look at Centre Chiefs, they are good when they are in possession but once they lose possession, it is a hassle. I can tell you if Centre Chiefs had corrected that they could have successfully defended the title. If you look at a great team like Manchester United, they have players who are good once in possession and equally good in defending. That’s one element our teams should work on; a team should not only have one strong element because the weaknesses can cost them dearly,” he said. Makgwengwe also expressed concern at the lack of playing style by local teams.

He said such problems can also have a negative impact on the team’s road to success.

Chiefs still have a chance of defending the lucrative Coca-Cola tournament which is scheduled to be played over the weekend. It still remains to be seen whether the team would manage or if they will just falter as was the case in the league.


Read this week's paper