Thursday, February 22, 2024

No Love Lost as Oktay Rolls Out of Popa

Hassan Oktay and Township Rollers may say their parting ways was amicable, but closer scrutiny shows there is no love lost between the two. The separation or perhaps the route towards it looks to have been messy.

Their union seems to have been that of great incompatibility. It seems that long before the two successive defeats to Masitaoka and Orapa United in the FA Cup and the Premier League respectively, both were locked in heated spousal bickering. The two games were just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Oktay says way before his departure, he had wanted to leave. He regretted the moment he came to Botswana and to Rollers in particular. “From a month before, I long wanted to leave because of the problems and difficulties I was under. The club has great players it is without a doubt and many things can be won with the squad. My problems rose from the coaching staff because our mentality and working ideology is different,” he points out.

Just falling short of saying he was sabotaged, Oktay says the troubles became evident ahead of Rollers’ clash with Sua Flamingoes. He says going into the game, he was told nine players would be out of contention, some with injuries and some with diarrhoea.

“Unfortunately, I had to believe what I was told but it turned out that a lot at play as many of the staff spoke of me as they did not want me. I was warned by some of the players to be careful about the guys in the technical team but I did not want to believe it, but now it got here,” he reminisces.

But how did a coach of Oktay’s experience get sucked into the situation he found himself in? The coach says during negotiations, he was informed he did not have a choice when it came to the technical team but to work with the ones already at the club. As he thought Botswana’s was a professional set-up, he agreed. He understood this was meant for the development of local coaches. He would live to regret not bringing at least one staff member of his own along.

Asked whether he does not believe the team results warranted his sacking, he thinks not. He says of the two losses, he can to an extent take responsibility for the Masitaoka loss but not the Orapa United loss. He says while he was on the technical bench for the Orapa game, he was just a figure head as he had no say and everything including players selection was done for him. “I will never apologise for the Orapa game because I was never in charge, they were the coaching staff were in charge. They picked players and did everything and I just stood there as a nobody,” he says.

“The time leading to my departure from Botswana, I spoke to a lot of local people including Adele Amrouche the former Botswana Senior National coach and they told me I made a mistake as I should have opted to bring some of my people as a lot of sabotage happens in Botswana football,” he stated.

For their part, Rollers refused to delve deep into the matter save to say the separation was amicable. Rollers CEO Bennett Mamelodi however said they had their reasons for separating with the coach.

While Rollers were keen to keep mum, sources say the team management felt that while results were not yet bad, they were heading for disaster if Oktay remained in charge. The source says the coach had also lost control of the team and he was not able to control those under him.

This was however not everything. The source says the coach was also failing to meet his contractual obligations. “He could not write weekly reports or provide weekly plans as required. The team, though winning, was also struggling. These are some of the reasons for his departure,” the source explains.

Meanwhile, Oktay’s agent said he could not comment on the matter as he was still waiting for a report from Rollers. “Once the report is provided, I will gladly share with you,” the South African based agent said.


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