Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Retaining Premier League championship no easy task

Cellular network giants, Mascom, might have ignited excitement for their three year sponsorship of the Premier League that ends this season. The past three years have undoubtedly been worth watching because competition has been fierce and actually moved to the next higher level.

What, however, can be taken note of is the trend in which the league is won. Ultimate winners seem to dominate from the onset to the very last game and, in addition, they lead their runners by an avalanche of points. The winners, though, also always seem to have problems when it comes to defending their titles. Winning back to back titles has proved to be difficult for most defending champions. In addition, the ultimate winners are history makers on their own.

It all started with Police XI two seasons ago when they won the league championship for the first time. The following season, they failed to defend their title.

Then followed Francistown side, Ecco City Green. Just like Police Xi, they won the league for the first time and failed to defend it last season. In the process, Ecco City also became the first team from the northern part of Botswana to clinch the league championship. Currently, as the league stands, Ecco City has no chances of winning the league and there is a possibility of them being condemned to the First Division if they do not improve in the upcoming games.

This season looks set to produce new league champions again, Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
For close to four decades of their existence, Centre Chiefs have never taken the championship medal but this season, they will be their own enemies if they fail.

At press time, they were leading their near rivals, Uniao Flamengo Santos by 19 points. They only need to at least win three games to wrap it off, provided Santos does not lose a single point. It remains to be seen whether teams would close the wide gap Chiefs created.

Chiefs are also yet to lose a game and might go all the way until the end of the campaign, thus creating another piece of history.

Gunners’ caretaker coach, Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare, lamented complacency on the part of teams after winning the league. He said once teams can remember that, winning back to back titles would not be difficult.

“After winning the league, teams do not reinforce for another season. Obviously, players would have fatigue and would need a little bit of rest. Once that happens other capable players must take the fort and it has not been easy in this country. “What even compounds the problem is the fact that our league does not have a break and, at one point, is played alongside the Coca Cola Cup which is played for a bit of a longer period,” he said.

In regard to Police XI, Nare said Police were strained further by participating in the Africa Club championships with the same players they used in the league campaign. He added that had Ecco bought a few players, they could still be in the race.
“Ecco City had some of their key players injured for the most part of this season and they did not have immediate replacements. That resulted in the team struggling and had they bolstered their previous squad, they could be in the race for league honours,” he said.

For title chasers, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Nare said it is a matter of retaining their current squad. He said if Chiefs win the league and if the majority of the players stay behind, they could still repeat the same feat next season.

“Look at players like Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi; he sits on the bench most of the time but if he was playing for other teams he could be a regular player. There are also other good players like Nicolas Gora who have seen little action this season. The only area that needs a bit of attention is the defence otherwise they have a strong pool,” he said.

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