Several First Division teams that have never tasted Premier League action are fighting tooth and nail to do so. The hard work seems to be paying off because they are leading the pack. Sunday Standard sports journalist, TSHEPHO BOGOSING looks at the likely ones.
The last time a relatively new team graced the Premier League was four seasons ago. It was none other than Francistown based side, Ecco City Green, which did not get promoted to make numbers, but to fiercely compete. Three seasons down the line, ‘Mamoja Diski’, as Ecco are branded by its loyalists, went on to clinch the League championship title. Ecco also made history by becoming the first ever team from the northern part of the country to win the title after many years of failure. Currently, the developments in the country’s two First Divisions might herald new chapters. The Premier League might welcome other new teams from the first divisions.
Although other teams that once graced the Premier League have chances, those that are looking forward for maiden appearances still have an upper hand. In the Northern part, Francistown-based side, Great North Tigers (GNT), is in pole position to make the historic appearance. The Lions of the North have been in strong contention for the past two seasons only to falter at the last hurdle. Two seasons ago, they were piped by another Francistown club, Tafic, and last year things were even more dramatic. Eventually, Orapa side, Boteti, sailed through. Currently, GNT are in very strong contention and fellow challengers have to triple their efforts if they harbour interests of toppling them.
GNT also seems to have learned dearly from the past seasons and have to stay level headed. Their coach, Seth ‘Tazza’ Moleofhi, coached Francistown side Tasc for a long time and has vast experience of local football. Apart from FC Satmos of Selibe-Phikwe, the teams that are looking forward for a first time appearance in the Premier League are Serowe side Miscellaneous and FC Palapye of Palapye. Just before this past weekend’s games, Satmos were in the second position followed by Miscellaneous and FC Palapye.
Miscellaneous, on the other hand, are the team that has drastically improved for just a season and a half, thanks to the tutelage of Teenage Mpote.
Last season Mpote took Miscellaneous from the brink of relegation and helped it to the middle of the table. This year, Mpote, also a former Tasc coach, is determined to at least go for the playoffs if automatic promotion eludes his team.
FC Palapye, on the other hand, have been hopping in between the First and Second divisions in the past years and if they make it to the Premier League, it would be a big achievement for the Palapye community that is also yet to have a team in top flight football. In the Southern region, two teams currently stand out: Mochudi Buffaloes and Killer Giants.
The team that has sprung a surprise is Mochudi Buffaloes. They are already causing havoc and they are just in their second season. Just last season after gaining promotion, they were nearly relegated to the second division. They have since regrouped and do not want to leave any stone unturned. If Mochudi Buffaloes make it, it would be a tremendous achievement in the Kgatleng region because their fellow counterparts in the Premier League, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, are also riding on the crest of a wave. Chiefs are on the brink of winning their first ever league championship after close to forty years of trying but without success.
Just like GNT, the Ramotswa side, Killer Giants, have had bad luck for the past two seasons. They have had the tendency of starting well only to wither where it mattered the most. The man who, for a long time, has been with Killer Giants team is none other than Donald ‘Coach’ Mopako. Killer Giants would also be the first team from Ramotswa to be in the Premier League. Nevertheless both Killer Giants and Buffaloes must be wary of Naughty Boys and Prisons XI. They pose a real danger and have the experience of getting promoted from the First Division.
Prisons look even more dangerous, because their coach, Stanley Mwaanga, was the one who took Ecco City all the way from the second Division to the Premier League. His experience might also work well for the warders. On the other hand, while several teams are looking forward to promotion to the Premier League, others have to pave way for them. It is still not quite clear which teams will go down.
Although teams like Nico United and Jwaneng Comets are the current trailers, they have a chance of finishing in respectable positions. As things stand, even teams from position six have mathematical chances of going down if those below them pick some points. Big teams like Township Rollers, BDF XI, Police XI, Ecco City Green and Extension Gunners are also not safe from the relegation axe at all.