By Botlhale Koothupile
An obtaining threat, a real one, of relegation is dividing the Mochudi Centre Chiefs management and the team’s loyal supporters alike.
With only nine (9) games before the 2018/19 Botswana Premier League (BPL) wraps up, Mochudi Centre Chiefs is in a perilous situation.
The Kgatleng based outfit, much to the dismay and disappointment of followers, currently languishes in the relegation zone with only 17 points from 21 games. In fact, Magosi, which is on position 14 on the BPL log standings, closer to the bottom placed Maun based Sankoyo Bush Bucks.
Making the situation even more unbearable for the team faithful is the current uncertainty over who will take over to steer the Magosi ship out of the turbulence it sees itself in.
Just this past Wednesday, Chiefs management was forced to offer a rebuttal after interim coach Itumeleng Duicker allegedly ‘informed the media he had been sacked.’
According to sources, Chiefs was planning to replace Duicker with a new gaffer within a short period of time, with team manager Zaahid Jalal taking the reins while the team awaits appointment of a new coach.
The news was enough to cause uproar within the Magosi support base, with as many lamenting that the move was akin to ‘deliberately sending the team to the lower division,’ while the management is of the view that ‘there is no need to press panic buttons.’
“Lesang go iphitlha ka monwana le tlhaloseng gore a maikaelelo a lona ke go isa team leroleng eseng sepe gape re bone gore re tsaya efe kgato (loosely translated, stop playing hide and seek and inform us if you want to relegate our team so we can see what to do),” one supporter quipped in the team’s official Facebook page forum.
“… We just can’t afford to lose Tummie Tummie under the current situation. Should it be true “le mo kobile then le bo le phatalla coz le tlaabo le le enemies of Mochudi Centre Chiefs” (should it be true you have fired the coach then disperse as you would be the enemies of Centre Chiefs),” another said in the same forum.
Speaking in an interview, Jalal implored the Chiefs supporters not to panic as there were still some games to play.
“I am confident that if we win five of the last games remaining, we will be able to avoid relegation,” the Chiefs team manager said.
On Duicker, Jalal said the management has not fired him but has retained him as an assistant coach pending the decision of the incoming head coach.
“It will be up to the head coach to decide if he keeps the current technical team, including Duicker or if he brings his own. That is the standard practice,” he said.
Jalal said the management expects the substantive coach to be in the bench for Chiefs’ next official league game.
Aside from divulging they will be hiring a local coach who can hit the ground running, Jalal refused to divulge the name of the incoming coach as negotiations are yet to be finalised.
He said as management, they are currently working around the clock to sort out the current situation and insisted the team will not relegate.
“We are trying to be close as the team management and players to get the team out of the current situation,” he concluded.
Despite Jalal’s insistence, a source close to the Centre Chiefs management has divulged to the Sunday Standard that things may not be as the team manager states.
“Duicker has informed us that he has been told by the team chairperson that he should stay away from the team. This is the reason why he was not even here today (Friday) to watch the team from the stands when we lost to Miscellaneous,” the source said.
The source said as far as he can tell, Duicker’s departure has long been planned for. “During our encounter against Gunners, we heard rumours that some people in the management did not want him as the head coach. They claimed he had lost the dressing room. It seems as they have now influenced players to go against Duicker as when some were questioned, they claimed they did not want him as the coach,” he alleged.
On the rumoured incoming coach, the source said it was a secret between Jalal and Raymond Tsheko as no one else is aware of who is coming.
“If they are asked to give a name of the so called incoming coach, they cannot even say it. We are not sure if it is true,” the source concluded.
Meanwhile, the Magosi supporters were left hopeless of their team’s survival this past Friday as they watched their team lose 1 ÔÇô 2 to Miscellaneous in a league game played at the Molepolole Sports Complex.
Centre Chiefs will now have to move mountains to survive relegation given the calibre of opponents they are still to face.
Aside from BR Highlanders , Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Sharps Shooting Stars, Magosi will also have to face BDF XI, Orapa United, Gaborone United, Jwaneng Galaxy, Township Rollers and Police XI in their remaining nine league games.