After almost a decade of struggling, Gunners received what was supposed to be a major boost when the Dada and Ismail families announced their intention to assist the sleeping giants with funds in the upcoming 12 months.
The deal was expected to help the club sign some quality players and, more so, challenge for honours in the current campaign. At the media launch, the country’s bigwigs like the then Lobatse legislator Nehemiah Modubule, the current legislator Sadique Kebonang, honorary president Rashid Chopdat graced the occasion.
There were smiles all over the auditorium and club’s boss Kitso Dlamini hinted that they had assembled a squad which would compete with the likes of Township Rollers, Gaborone United, BDF XI and Mochudi Centre Chiefs for the League title.
Three months into the deal, there were allegations that all was not glittery in the Mapantsula camp. It was reported that chairman Dlamini and main backer Cassim Dada were not on good terms. It came as a surprise because the two gentlemen had held meetings together behind closed doors in the build-up to the launch and they seemed to share a common goal – that is to take Gunners forward.
While both Dlamini and Dada dismissed the allegations – those in the know pointed out that it was a matter of time before Dada pulled out. In February, Dada dropped a bombshell when he announced that the P1 million he pumped into the club had been exhausted. It came as a sucker-punch and the football community wondered what could have happened. It was then announced that the other financial backer did not come on board as promised hence the current situation.
A reliable source close to Gunners revealed, “it was clear from the onset that this marriage was not going to happen. There were issues around the presence of Modubule at the launch and many other things. The deal turned political hence some people did not play their role. Furthermore, the relationship between Cassim and Kitso has been close to naught though they seemed to be on good terms. The problem with Gunners is there is lots of politics which delays the growth of the club.” The source further revealed that it is difficult to motivate the players under the current situation.
When approached for comment, Dlamini said, “it is true that the agreement we had with Dada has elapsed.
Unlike what people have been saying, the funds were not embezzled. We cannot be accountable for funds which have never been deposited into the club’s account. All we need to do as a club is to appreciate that Cassim Dada played his role and the funds have been exhausted; we need to appreciate that and move forward. All I know is that he is passionate about his club and there is a possibility that he will come back and help the club in the future.”
The club’s boss said that at this moment, his executive is running around to source funds elsewhere. He said that though they are still at the preliminary stages of the discussions with the potential sponsors, it looks promising. “We’re appealing to the business community to come and rescue the club. We cannot pay the players well but we’re trying to make ends meet. Sometimes I feel that it is the Gunners’ family chasing business people away from the club with petty talk. If our brand is tarnished, there is nobody who would want to come on board. It is important that we come together for the cause of this club,” Dlamini continued.
When the season kicked off, Dlamini said their intensions were to challenge for the League but now he is singing a different tune. He said their plans were disturbed by a couple of internal issues. “Things have not gone according to our plan so we had to sit down again as the executive. We agreed that being in the top 8 bracket will be the ideal thing but if we fail, we’ll take it from there next season. We’ll go back to the drawing board because we’re an ambitious side,” said Dlamini. Gunners are currently placed on the seventh spot on the log with 39 points with four matches before the end of the season. In their next match, Gunners visit FC Satmos at Selebi Phikwe Stadium on April 25.