Thursday, February 22, 2024

Rollers awakening

Township Rollers are now mainly known outside the field of play. This season, the team has had many running battles with football’s mother body, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) together with the Premier League. Some of the issues included the saga of BDF XI striker, Bernard Simakwenzi, and the Orange sponsorship deal. Rollers alleged that Simakwenzi is a defaulter and the case went as far as the office corridors of world football’s controlling body, FIFA.

The Orange sponsorship saga is still raging on. Rollers are sponsored by Orange cellular company, the rival to Premier League sponsor, Mascom.
The off the field development affected the morale of the players a lot because the team performed poorly for most of the season. This season stands out as one of the worst for the team. In some instances, Rollers went for as many as six games without a single victory. Rollers’ dismal performance saw Coach Madinda Ndlovu being booted out. However, the supporters of the team were not demoralised as they attended the team’s games in droves. Even when the team was hauled before the disciplinary committees of the BFA, the supporters were always there to hear for themselves rather than from the media, which they accuse of bias against the team.

Of late, however, Rollers seems to be awakening and have won three of their past games, conceding only one goal. It all started in Selibe Phikwe when they beat relegation candidates FC Satmos by three goals to one. Then last week, they thrashed their traditional rivals Gaborone United by three goals without reply. This past Thursday, Rollers beat one of their arch rivals, BDF XI, 2-0 at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks. Rollers are, however, achieving the results with the same players the previous coach, Ndlovu, had.

The incumbent coach, Daniel Nare, who joined Rollers from Centre Chiefs, told The Sunday Standard that although the results are coming, he did not bring major changes at the team. He said the impressive results that are coming out are mainly as a result of team work.

“Honestly speaking, I did not change much when I arrived but I was under tremendous pressure to produce results because Rollers are a big team. I personally think the results are coming mainly because of a change of attitude by the players. When I arrived, they were used to certain styles of playing that were offered by the previous coaches. Since I have my own philosophies, I had to apply mine bearing in mind who our next opponents would be. I am someone who likes tactical flexibility and the players had to adapt to that. They had to understand my vision for the team and I am also happy because everything is going well and, hopefully, things will be the same for a long time to come,” he said.

Before joining Rollers, Nare had stints at BMC, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and First Division side, Letlapeng. It was at BMC and Chiefs where he made his name because in his time results were coming. He even transformed many unknown players into forces to reckon with.

Since title aspirations are out of the picture, it now remains to be seen whether Rollers would finish in a reputable position this season and even win one of the major upcoming tournaments, like the lucrative Coca Cola and Orange Kabelano Cups.

Rollers senior team official, Father Maphogo, said the arrival of Nigerian physician, Doctor Oche Onyewadume, helped the team to be where it is now. He said he has really helped the team on the physical aspect because most players are now sharp in the field of play.

Meanwhile, Rollers will be playing relegation threatened Prisons XI in Molepolole today (Sunday). Prisons XI would really determine whether Rollers are on the rise because they are fighting to avoid relegation back to the First Division. Rollers on the other hand need to win at all costs to be sure of the top eight positions. Players that are in scintillating form for Rollers are the likes of Sekhana Koko, Onalethata Thekiso, Kaone Molefhe and goalkeeper, Barolong Lemmenyane.

Prisons will depend on their reliable goalkeeper, Khalid Niyonzima, Moses Magwaneng and Tatenda Mbikiwa.


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