Mogoditshane Fighters made the long-awaited comeback to the Premier League after almost three years in the dusty First Division.
“The Brazilians”, who were relegated in 2008, got their promotion despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to title rivals Mochudi Buffaloes in an electrifying encounter in Mochudi on Saturday afternoon.
Fighters finished on 39 points after 22 games, beating Buffaloes on goal difference.┬á
The Mochudi side still has a chance of making it to the elite league as they will face Mahalapye Hotspurs in the Promotional Play-offs on a date still to be confirmed.
Saturday’s clash did not finish without controversy as Buffaloes officials, led by coach Moshe Koitsiwe, bayed for the match officials’ blood at the final whistle, claiming that the goal awarded to Fighters had not crossed the line. After what has been a tough season for the Mogoditshane side, manager Mothusi Phefo told Telegraph Sport that they are already planning for their stay in the big league. He said that they have learnt a lesson from the demise of Black Peril and TASC who were promoted last season only to go down in the just ended season.
“Our stay in the First Division opened our eyes and I believe that we’ll use the experience to our advantage. I have to admit that there is a huge difference between the First Division and Premier League and we’ve to prepare thoroughly for the kick off,” said Phefo.
He said that as Fighters’ committee, they have to work hard to ensure that when the season kicks off in August, they would be able to compete with giants like Township Rollers, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United. Phefo added that though they value the players who helped them gain promotion, they will need to reinforce them with some players who have what it takes to withstand the pressure in the Premier League. He called on their supporters to rally behind the team in the coming season after some of them snubbed the side during the challenging period.
“It is the responsibility of our supporters’ committee to ensure that those who have deserted the team come back,” pointed out the club’s official.
The man who is credited with the promotion of Fighters is coach Botshelo Pelokgosi who arrived at Fighters this season when they appeared to have given up on promotion. Having coached First Division sides Kgabosetso, Young Strikers, Letlapeng and Killer Giants, Pelokgosi used his experience to guide the Brazilians back to the big league.
Having played for Fighters between 1992 and 1996, Pelokgosi pointed out that when he took over, he felt indebted to help the side to bigger things.
“If it was not the support of my technical team (Barney Marman and Joel Chonga), I don’t think I would have achieved this. The players were also fantastic as they did not take long to understand my philosophy,” he said. The coach shared the same sentiments with his manager that they need to beef up their squad if they intend to stay longer in the Premier League. Having worked with seasoned players like Tshepiso ‘Sox’ Molwantwa, Justin Bwalya and Donald ‘Coach’ Mopako, the gaffer said that he would need players who would come with a positive attitude to the side.
It remains to be seen whether Fighters’ management would continue with the current technical team
for the season ahead.
In the past, most sides opted to fire coaches who helped them get promotion, claiming that they need a more experienced gaffer. Some of these experienced coaches end up messing their campaigns.
Like Phefo put it on Monday, the management still has to meet to decide on some of the major decisions.
“It is not only me who can decide on the future,” concluded Phefo when asked whether they will keep the technical team.