After three decades of trying with little success, Mochudi Centre Chiefs finally clinched the 2007/8 Mascom Premier League championship. What is unique about Centre Chiefs’s victory is the fact that they won it without losing a single game and with four games to go.
Also for the first time in many years, Centre Chiefs managed to bring out many supporters who always filled their stands to the brim.
However, the road to the championship was not that smooth sailing for the Kgatleng outfit. Although they managed to emerge victorious in the end, some of the games were won through sheer luck.
The games that come to mind are the three draws against Uniao Flamengo Santos, Ecco City Green, Township Rollers and the victory over BMC.
In all the draws Chiefs played to a two all and beat BMC by two goals to one.
It all started against Santos. It was a game Santos controlled from the onset to the end. Chiefs ended up equalising but one of their goals, especially from bulgy and swashbuckling striker, Mpho ‘Jomo’ Mabogo, was controversial.
The game against Ecco City was even full of drama. Ecco had taken the lead twice only for Chiefs to come back. But the second goal was highly disputed. It was scored in the eighth minute of the ten added minutes. Many people queried the added time saying it was too much. When people thought Ecco City were going to be the first team to inflict Chiefs with their first loss, Jabu Pilane denied that and sent thousand of Magosi supporters into a frenzy with his goal.
The game against Township Rollers was one of those that will also remain in the minds of Rollers supporters for many years to come. Rollers were definitely on course to defeat Magosi. After Magosi defeated them 3-0 in the first round, Rollers vowed to turn the tables on them and it nearly happened, had it not been for Oteng Moalosi’s injury time goal. Moalosi equlised from a corner kick after poor marking by the Rollers defence.
In BMC’s game, one of BMC players’ appeared to have been fouled, but the referee waved play on handing Chiefs victory.
In addition, Chiefs’ success was never short of controversy. Many teams accused them of approaching their players, promising them better packages.
In addition, the team was time and again fingered for flouting the rules and regulations of the beautiful game. Although they won almost all cases against them, the question remains why Centre Chiefs were always continuously involved in such matters.
Previously, teams like Police XI and Ecco City won the Mascom Premier League for the first time but without any controversies and without the intervention of arbitration bodies.
As a result of this, some players nearly had their careers derailed. Players like Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi and Sekhana ‘Nados’ Koko spent some of their time kicking their heels and watching from the stands while their teams were fighting on the field of play. But, generally, Chiefs also have to be credited for not losing focus when it appeared the team was going to crumble.
Just before the Christmas break, their then coach, Mike Sothole, resigned citing irreconcilable differences with the team management. Immediately after Sithole’s resignation, the team was marred by reports of discontent among the players who were even linked to some teams in the Premier League.
Chiefs’ management also nearly panicked and approached several players from other teams. But they ended up staying put and won the league championships, which most players won for the first time. Chiefs’ management, on the other hand, has made it clear that they are still thirsty for more glory.
They are targeting the lucrative Coca Cola Cup and even the African Champions league. That, however, can only be achieved once the team retains most of their players in the current squad and, in addition, beef up the team.
However, it will definitely be difficult in the African Champions league. Local teams have faired badly before and the only teams that made it to the last 16 are Notwane in 1995 and Township Rollers, two years ago.
Also Southern African teams never perform well in the African Champions league. It is normally a West and North African affair. The only southern African country to have won it is South African side, Orlando Pirates, and that was way back in 1995.