Monday, May 17, 2021

From hero to villain: How Paul’s field of dreams became a nightmare

Following Paul’s suspension this week, he was immediately replaced by the nomadic Oupa Kowa who will be assisted by Solomon Moipolai and goalkeeper coach. The trio was in charge of Mapantsula in their clash against Police XI at the SSKB Stadium in Mogoditshane yesterday (Saturday).

On early Tuesday morning, the indefinite suspension of Paul was leaked to the media and immediately went viral on social networks. The suspension was met with mixed feelings by the soccer fraternity, including those who do not follow the Lobatse giants. While many people thought the club’s management would come out to explain the indefinite suspension, they decided to sit back thus allowing speculation to thrive. Disappointingly for Paul, he was summoned to Gaborone to collect his suspension letter but to his surprise, no one from Gunners’ executive bothered to meet with the man who a few weeks ago was a hero. While it was allegedly reported that the suspension was prompted by insubordination, some sources opined that Paul was as good as fired.

According to sources, Paul’s last straw came on the eve of their high-profile match against Mochudi Centre Chiefs which was played at Francistown Sports Stadium on September 19th. Although Gunners went down 1-0, it is reported that Paul was still going to be suspended even if he had won the match. “The management wanted to address the players on Friday (September 18th) but Paul refused because he wanted his players to focus on the match. The management appointed Paul knowing his character,” said a source close to the developments.

On Tuesday evening in Lobatse, the players declined to be trained by Kowa before they could be officially informed of the latest developments. A player who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation confirmed the drama, “We only wanted the management to tell us of the changes. As for the suspension, we usually have our breakfast at a restaurant next to Sebele Filling Station when travelling. The officials came and wanted to address us but the coach refused. As the players we didn’t see anything untoward with the coach’s behaviour on the day because we were fully focused on the match.”

On Friday morning, Paul was not interested in discussing the reasons which led to his suspension as he was busy contemplating his future. Though he did not want to go into details, Paul confirmed that he refused the management’s move to address the players because it was going to put his charges under unnecessary pressure. Another rumour monger stated that Paul also rubbed shoulders the wrong when he publicly attacked central defender Desire Bafana on national television at the end of their 1-0 loss to Chiefs. However Paul responded saying, “I know what Desire is capable of hence I felt that he let us down on the night. There is nothing wrong with that. We talked about the issue with the concerned player and it has since been sorted out. I have a nice relationship with my players,” he continued.

Paul said that despite the current situation, he is proud of his achievements at the club having guided them to four wins, two losses and a draw in their opening seven matches. “Gunners have never been at the top of the log in 15 years and I’m proud that we managed to be there for weeks. People need to understand that football is a game of mixed results. With the kind of players we have as compared to Rollers and Chiefs, I think we’ve done well,” said Paul.

Gunners’ spokesperson Keorapetse Kgasa was not forthcoming with full details of the suspension save to say, “I wouldn’t say that we’ve suspended him because we haven’t met. Yes, we’ve got issues with him but we’ll know the future as soon as both parties have met”.

Meanwhile, this publication has been reliably informed that Paul was engaged in negotiations with Jwaneng Galaxy by late Friday afternoon in a bid to convince him to take charge at the club. Galaxy remained without a coach following the sacking of Boyo Radipotsane.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper