Monday, November 28, 2022

‘Gaborone United not yet there’ – former captain

Gaborone United (GU) is one of the local teams that have produced big names in local football, and such names are still on the lips of the team’s die hard supporters. In its heydays, GU also used to sweep everything on offer, with the exception of the league and even earned themselves the nickname ‘Money Machine’ and ‘Money Link.’ The most memorable squad for GU was the one of the early 90s that comprised the likes of Gofhamodimo ‘City’ Senne, Patrick Zibotcwa, Listen Kealotswe, Buki Barongwi, Mlungisi Kopi, Terrence Mophuting, Mandla Balanda, Chandy Moruti and several others. When the team was playing, especially against blood rivals, Township Rollers, the city used to be painted red complete with motorcades and ululations.

Few years down the line, tragedy hit GU as they suffered from an age gap. The team seemingly forgot to take seriously their development structures and ended up campaigning in the first division for a period of five years and only came back into the premier league just two seasons ago. When GU arrived, they had relatively young players who needed direction and experience. Although they managed to survive in the first season, the reception was harsh as teams did not give them a chance. The poor results even led to the dismissal of coach Stanley Mwaanga who replaced Ezekiel Mpofu. Since GU did not have experienced players, Mwaanga tried to build the team with the little he had but the management saw it otherwise and showed him the door.

Then in came Zimbabwean Luke Masomere who took over in the middle of this season’s first round. Masomere also had a terrible start as his charges went for about four games without registering a victory. He ended up going back to his homeland in search of experienced talent to help the team reach its deserved status. Masomere brought the trio of Sageby Sandaka, Itayi Gwandu and Edmore Mafema.

It did not take them long to settle in the team and the results started coming in. Although at the beginning consistency was a big problem, now GU is recording a string of victories and are in a better position to challenge for at least the second spot. It is a bit late for them to win the league and if they are to obtain position two they have to keep their current record. Sandaka has already surprised many people because he has a chance for the golden boot award. So far he has scored ten league goals just four behind Mpho Mabogo of BDF XI.

Despite the good results by the team, Senne, who is a former skipper of the team and one of the best defenders Botswana has ever produced, is a bit worried. He told The Sunday Standard that there is still a long way to go for the team if they are to equal or better their famous squad.

“GU is in the right direction but they are not yet there, they need to be consistent at least for another two years. I am worried about the strike force because it seems it is only Sandaka who is carrying all the team’s hopes. What if he is injured or off form, definitely the team is going to suffer. There must at least be two players of his caliber. Also, it is not good for a team to come from two goals down, as happened against Jwaneng Comets last week. This shows the team’s defence has some problems. “

Senne, who was also the first Best Player of the series for inaugural Coca Cola Cup in 1993, said their legion had great characters, especially when the going was tough; now, he says, this is lacking in the current GU team.

“Upfront, we had Zibotcwa who was quick and had a terrible pace. When we realised that our opponents’ defence was intact we would knock long balls for him and sooner the ball would be in the back of the net. I also trusted myself when it came to corner kicks, I would sneak upfront and ask my teammates to cover me and, in most cases, I got something. Those kinds of players are still not there for GU,’ he said.

Nevertheless Senne added that there are many promising young players for the team of which, if groomed properly, they can be a force to reckon with in a few years to come.


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