When he was brought in as an interim coach to replace the ‘suspended’ Zimbabwean tactician, Tonderai Marume, on May 2, many people had already written an obituary for Notwane.
Their survival seemed to be a far-fetched dream considering that there were five games to go. After four games in charge, Oupa Kowa has proved to be a messiah who is leading the famous club to the Promised Land. Whether he will achieve that remains to be seen.
Kowa has registered two wins against Extension Gunners and Motlakase before playing to a stalemate against BR Highlanders and Mogoditshane Fighters. Notwane lie on the 13th spot with 31 points from 29 games and their last game against Gaborone United (GU) on Wednesday might be very crucial.
As things stand, the mood in Toronto camp remains sky-high as they believe that Kowa is what the doctor ordered for them. Like one supporter summed it up after their 2-2 draw against Fighters, Kowa has brought the belief to all those close to Notwane. But their fate does not lie in their own hands.
Prisons XI, who still have two games to go, might spoil the party for Toronto. Prisons XI, who take on BDF XI this afternoon in Molepolole, lie on the 14th spot having accumulated 26 points from 28 games. They can go to 32 points and if Notwane were to lose to GU in midweek, it will mark the end of an era for the once giants of Botswana football.
It will not come as a surprise to see Toronto supporters cheering BDF XI till the end of the game this afternoon. If Prisons XI lose today, Notwane supporters will party all night long and they will have Kowa to thank for their achievement. Despite all the challenges which have hit their camp in the last four weeks, Kowa believes that his side has what it takes to survive the chop. He is not even thinking of getting a favour from BDF XI because he knows football is an unpredictable game.
“We need to remain focused and go all out to beat GU. The boys are working hard in training and I have no doubt that we’ll remain in the Premier League. When I took over, the plan had been to finish the remaining five games without a loss. So far we’ve done well though one will regret the points dropped in the games we’ve drawn. The technical team will definitely come up with a plan which will make us come away with maximum points against GU,” said Kowa. He pointed out that when he took over, it was important for him to strike the balance between experience and youth. That meant that veteran striker Tshepiso ‘Sox’ Molwantwa returns to the first team. Molwantwa has responded positively scoring four goals in the last four games. The likes of Othusitse Mahube, Kgomari Mothuba, Thulani Moyo and Oteng Moalosi have also upped their performance to the benefit of the team.
Kowa has paid tribute to the supporters who have been committed to the course since the new technical team took over.
“Once we have secured our place in top flight, the technical team will come up with ideas which will be aimed at improving the performance of the team next season. We need to raise the standards next season because it’s not nice for a big club like Notwane to be involved in such a mess (relegation),” Kowa added.
In midweek Kowa bid farewell to his former club Fighters which will be campaigning in the First Division South next season. Last season Kowa led Fighters to the eighth spot and he could not hide his disappointment at the way things have gone for the Brazilians in less than 12 months.
“I’m hurt to see Fighters relegating after the hard work I put last season. Unfortunately when we played them, we needed the points badly but it’s sad to see them dropping. The management has to sit down and see where they’ve gone wrong,” said Kowa.