Monday, September 28, 2020

Mafoko does it the “Makelele” way

Many who have watched the Township Rollers side destined to conquer in the 2006/2007 season, would agree that the team would be difficult to beat. Reason: the enlisting of midfielder, Boitumelo Mafoko, from Tasc.

The team might have lost trusted goal poacher, Sox Molwantwa, to Notwane and stalwart defender, Seabo Gabanakgosi, to Centre Chiefs, but the truth of the matter is that some animate figure are more replaceable than others.

Some football enthusiasts are of the opinion that Township Rollers have never landed a player to replace former talisman, Bigboy “Kaizer”Johannes, in that hole in front of the defence and that Mafoko is the real deal in that position.

A quick analysis of all successful teams around the world will show that the position is a principal determinant of prosperity. English giants Arsenal, in their mean days, had Frenchman Patrick Viera in the position, Manchester United had Roy Keane, Barcelona has Brazilian Edmilson, AC Milan has Gattusso and Chelsea has Claude Makelele.

When South African outfit, Kaizer Chiefs, won two consecutive league titles in 20004 and 2005, their success was, to a larger extent, attributed to the marshaling qualities of Zimbabwean Tinashe Nengomasha, who plays in the holding role. Similarly, Pretoria side, Mamelodi Sundowns, won the 2005/2006 championships. Guess who was mostly applauded for the triumph, correct, Esrom Nyandoro who plays in that holding role.

Locally, the all-conquering Extension Gunners side of the 90s had Philemon “There Goes the Train” Chisala. The bulky player would roam in and around the centre circle, dishing those long and short passes like a true general.

Spanish La Liga giants, Real Madrid, hit an all time low streak after releasing Makelele. They never filled the void left by the French hard man until only this summer that they woke from their walk to doom by signing Brazilian “animal” Emerson.

Barulaganye Tsheboeng, a staunch, Rollers follower since the early 80s, says that Mafoko would make the all-time Rollers line-up.

“That boy reminds us of Makelele at his peak. Even Mogogi Gabonamong cannot match Mafoko. He keeps the shape of that midfield such that no team will penetrate Rollers through the middle. His organizational competence is out of this world. Gabonamong would sometimes get carried away and leave his position. That put the rearguard in trouble when there was a counter attack, especially against a fast team, like Ecco City Greens,” said Tsheboeng.

Kolagano Okaeng of Lobtrans Gunners also swallowed his pride to heave praises on the skinny midfield player.

“When I first saw him warming up for Rollers before their game against us in the Kabelano Cup, I thought my team would easily find a pathway to goals through this skinny guy who does not appear athletic at all. I was fooled by his physical outlook. This guy was the main reason why our midfield failed to tick on the day. He shut out any attack through the middle, rendering the likes of Gweru (Pilato) ineffective. He reminds me of that former Orlando Pirates captain, John Moeti,” said Okaeng.

Mafoko could have joined “The Palestinians” last season but his team, Tasc, lodged a case to the BFA against the move. Their contentious issue was that Rollers’ approach of the player was not procedural. The BFA disciplinary committee ruled in favour of Tasc.

Rollers did not leave anything lying as they, this time, followed the right channels to land their man.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.