Thursday, July 9, 2020

Have the Gods Turned Their Backs on Chiefs?

BY BOTLHALE KOOTHUPILE

Like the fabled ‘razor sharp sword’ held by a single strand of horsehair over the head of a feasting Damocles, so is the relegation axe over Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

Four games from the conclusion of the league and left with tough matches against some of the currently on-form teams in the league, even the staunchest of Magosi supporters now fear for the worst.

If the Setswana saying that ‘ha Badimo ba go soketse dirope ga go sepe se se go siamelang,’ (loosely translated) ‘when the Gods/Ancestors have turned their backs on you, nothing ever goes right for you’) is anything to go by, it is then perhaps only right to believe the Bakgatla ancestors have turned their backs on Magosi.

As Magosi battles to stave off the impending threat of relegation to the lower leagues, nothing seems to be going right for the once proud local football giants.

In their efforts to win matches or even survive thus far, Chiefs have done everything but return to their ancestral home, and NOTHING works.

As a typical example, against the promotion chasing Debswana First Division South (DFDS) side Jwaneng Fighters in the Orange FA Cup, Magosi tried everything but wash with the Kgatleng soil and still failed.

Five minutes before recess, during an injury forced break with Chiefs a goal ahead, the players were given ‘magic waters’ to use, of which the team bathed their faces with. Barely a minute from restart, Chiefs had conceded.

The same ‘magic water’ reappeared once again, this time when the game went to penalties. Once again, Centre Chiefs utterly failed, with only one of four penalties converted.

While it could be easy to argue that Chiefs’ exit from the FA Cup at the hands of minnows was a blessing in disguise or even intentional for them to focus on relegation survival, the loss was the summary of the story of their season.

This season alone, Chiefs has seen two coaches pass through its doors, and the third, a caretaker coach, is now currently on the driver’s seat. Still, nothing has given, Chiefs is struggling.

Speaking in an interview after their loss against Fighters, Chiefs caretaker coach Zaahid Jalal acknowledged that the team will have a mountain to climb if they are to survive.

“All we need is seven points from the remaining games for us to avoid relegation and I am optimistic we can survive. All we have to do is to at least force draws with the top teams and win the game against the other teams,” Jalal explained.

And the caretaker coach acknowledges this will be a tough ask, but is adamant his team can survive. Of the remaining five games, only the game against fellow relegation candidates Sankoyo Bush Bucks looks winnable.

Jalal’s optimism however seems not to be shared by the Magosi supporters. A ‘walk through’ the team’s official Facebook page points to supporters already at peace with playing a Kgatleng derby with the likes of Mochudi Rovers this coming season, and given the list of teams they will face in the runoff, their pessimism may not be misplaced.

Chiefs’ will start their quest for survival this coming Tuesday with a tricky date Premier League title contenders Jwaneng Galaxy. Galaxy is currently a point ahead of Township Rollers at the top of the league log, though having played a game more.

Going into the game, Galaxy will be aware that a loss will hugely dent their title chances and will therefore fancy getting all three points they can from Magosi.

Exactly seven days from the game, Chiefs will then take on Rollers. Just as with Galaxy, this will be a tough game for Magosi as Rollers is fighting to defend the league title.

Centre Chiefs’ last two league games will see them battle resurgent Gaborone United With GU fighting to make it into the Top 8 bracket, this will be one battle Chiefs will not relish.

After the two fixtures, Chiefs will then take on fellow strugglers Sankoyo Bush Buck in their penultimate game before wrapping up the league with a match against Police XI.

While the game against Sankoyo is billed as the most winnable of Magosi’s remaining games, it is not likely to be an easy one as the Maun based outfit will be aware that beating Chiefs will likely propel them to safety.

The last game against Police XI will also not be easy for Magosi as ‘The Jungle Kings’ are fighting to finish in the Top 8.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.