For the many differences between Township Rollers management and the supporters, there is one thing they agree on, Romain Folz is the man for them.
On Saturday, the youthful coach was a picture of cool as he masterminded yet another derby win, this time a 2 – 1 win against crosstown rivals Notwane. This was the second successive derby win for ‘Little Ngwana,’ as Rollers’ supporters have affectionately christened him.
The weekend win sees Rollers keep close tabs on league leaders Gaborone United (GU), who had on the same day needed a last-minute goal to grind a 1 – 0 win over Mogoditshane Fighters.
As the 31-year-old tactician mastered another win against Notwane this past Saturday, the team’s legion of supporters could not help but sing praises for him.
“If there is one thing Bennett (Mamelodi) has done well for us, it is hiring Folz,” one supporter said. “Now we enjoy watching our team play good football.”
Good football aside, since his arrival in the shores of Botswana, the youthful coach has literally gone overseen a transformation at Rollers and the players are now seemingly enjoying playing under him.
Impressively, all this has been done without as many losses as one would expect. From the 12 games he has overseen, there have been 9 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. The loss came courtesy of GU in the coach’s only second game in charge.
Folz’s win ratio is almost the same as that of GU, who, since his arrival, have played 13 games, winning 10, drawing 2 and losing 1. Interestingly, this loss came at the hands of Rollers a fortnight ago.
“Just imagine if he had arrived here before the season started and had a proper pre-season with the team! We would be talking something different,” the supporter said.
Given his youthfulness, the supporter said it is only proper that Folz be with the team for a long while ‘so that he can grow with it.’
And accolades for the youthful coach have not just been coming from Rollers’ supporters. Sports writers have also started taking note of the youthful coach’s prowess.
“I was one of the biggest doubters of the coach when he arrived here because his cv was not as impressive. It had no major achievements save for his proficiency in six languages. Now I believe given time, he will make most of us his critics into believers,” football analyst Kagiso Kgaogano said.
According to him, one of the signs of a good coach is the ability to control the dressing room and he believes Folz has done well in this regard.
“During his predecessor’s reign, there were sounds of discontent within the Rollers dressing room as players felt there was some favouritism. That is no more under Folz. He has control of the dressing room even though some of the players are his agemates or older than him,” Kgaogano said.
Interestingly, where some supporters were questioning Rollers’ management over failure to bring in star players while GU was busy, Folz seems to have been able to squeeze the best out of the players he has at his disposal.
“Every player seems to be pitching in and giving his best. If you look at Rollers now, they do not have any player among the top goalscorers. But you see that they manage to score goals and concede less with different players chipping in with goals. This is impressive,” he said.
Among the other players who have found a lease of life under Folz are youngsters Bame Morwalela and Phenyo Serameng. He has also managed to bring back to form the likes of Motsholetsi Sikele and Segolame Boy, both of whom seem to be enjoying a new lease of life under the coach.
“A while ago, Serameng looked to be on the exit doors. He did not even make the match day squad and was always in the stands with supporters. Since Folz arrived, he has been an intergral part of Rollers and has been giving some man of the match performances. The same with Morwalela who was a fringe player but is now a guaranteed first team player,” Kgaogano said.
He said the arrival of Folz has made the title challenge interesting and he expects the title run to go all the way to the last day.