Friday, June 21, 2024

Motlakase buoyed by home ground advantage

For the first time in the history of Botswana’s Premier League, teams from the central district will enjoy a home ground advantage after league authorities approved Swallows Ground in Palapye as suitable to host top division football.
The decision is expected to enhance the balance of probabilities for Serowe-based Miscellaneous and Motlakase Power Dynamos in the contest for the coveted league title: It is an article of faith in football that teams playing from home ground have better chances of winning because they have the benefit of the 12th player ÔÇô the friendly home crowd. Besides, while the rigors of travelling will hurt the visitors, the home teams will benefit from a kinder, gentle, schedule.
Miscellaneous who are the whipping boys of the premier league and Motlakase Power Dynamos use the Swallows ground as their home ground and are expected to benefit from unique characteristics of the home playing field and improve their fortunes.
A total of 30 league games will be played at the venue, giving both teams from the Central District an opportunity to campaign for the league title with the benefit of home ground advantage and a supportive home crowd.
Sports scientists claim there is a general referee bias to favour the home team in sports. Are the referees deliberately favouring the home team? Sports scientists think not. They believe that referees are (like all of us) susceptible to social pressure, which in this case is the home crowd, and this social pressure causes the bias.
The decision to play premier league games in Palapye means that Motlakase will this season benefit from the home crowd as supporters will no longer have to travel long distances to cheer their heroes. While Motlakase does not have a huge following in Palapye unlike Swallows and Palapye United, villagers have united to rally behind ‘Chouka’ in their mission to turn Swallows into a happy hunting ground.
The local giants Gaborone United (GU), Township Rollers, Extension Gunners and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are all expected to visit the Swallows Ground at some stage this season. GU have already visited Palapye twice this season to play Miscellaneous and Motlakase. Their visit stirred a lot of excitement amongst the young and the old who have been craving topflight football.
In the three games they have played so far this season, ‘Chouka’ have played two games at home against Nico United (0-0) and GU (2-2). On Wednesday afternoon when they hosted GU, the Swallows ground was packed with football supporters clad in different football replicas. Though GU supporters were visible, Motlakase had the numbers as the neutrals also rallied behind the team from Central District. This became resoundingly clear when Motlakase came from behind to score two equalizing goals in the second stanza.
The home fans cheered Motlakase throughout the game which was played under hot conditions. The support pushed Motlakase players to come from a 2-0 deficit to end up forcing a 2-2 draw. It was a game Motlakase should have wrapped up in the dying minutes of the game, but alas poor decisions infront of goal.
Motlakase coach Oris Radipotsane welcomed the decision to take ‘Premier League football to the people’. He said that would enable them to safe costs of travelling every weekend. “The decision is a blessing because we’ll be able to make money from the gate-takings. This would enable us to pay the players on time with the little we raise from the gates. Playing here also means that we’ll be able to play infront of ours supporters which is also a plus for us. Our plan is not to lose any game here (in Palapye) and then we can also fight for positive results when playing away,” Radipotsane said at the end of their game against GU on Wednesday afternoon.
Radipotsane pointed out that their plan is to finish inside the Top 8 bracket and he has no doubt that he has players who can live to the expectations. Motlakase attracted a lot of attention the previous weekend when they hammered Township Rollers 2-0 in an exciting game which was played at SSKB Stadium in Mogoditshane. “I’ve told my players that this season is a chance for them to raise their hands and be counted. It is a chance for some of them to force themselves into the national team and they have responded positively so far. But there is a need to beef up the squad in January with at least three players especially upfront and midfield,” he added.
This coming weekend, Motlakase will host unpredictable BDF XI at the Swallows Ground a game which Radipotsane believes will be difficult. “Unfortunately being based in Palapye, I don’t have that privilege of spying on our opposition. But there is little we can do but rely on our past experience because most of the sides have not changed. We know what to expect from BDF XI. I think we’ll be up to the challenge,” Radipotsane said.


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