A Marc Dion strike on the 36th minute was all it took for Township Rollers to see off cross-town rivals and log leaders Gaborone United in a tightly contested match. The win reduced the points difference between the two city giants to just one in favour of GU, albeit with the latter having a game in hand.
Away from the league title race however, this was an all-important win for Rollers under pressure coach Romain Folz and the team Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi.
With GU seemingly cantering towards the title race, signs of discontent and rumours of potential mutiny against the team CEO and Folz’s led technical staff had started surfacing and the weekend game was viewed as a potential deal breaker.
Ahead of the game, a section of Rollers supporters had started questioning the team CEO Mamelodi over what they deemed a lack of high-profile signings to match GU. They were also questioning the experience of the youthful Folz.
In front of a packed crowd at the Royal Aria Stadium however, Folz and his men delivered a much-craved win for Rollers’ die-hard supporters to silence any noise of discontent among critics who are allegedly mobilizing to dislodge Mamelodi.
Having been roped in after Rollers parted ways with Hasan Oktay, it was always going to be difficult for the 31-year-old Folz, given he had had no pre-season with Rollers and also had no knowledge of Botswana football.
On Saturday however, the Rollers gaffer proved he had much to offer and it was no surprise that the same critics who ridiculed him effusively praised him. It would also have bought himself some time to continue his rebuilding.
For Mamelodi, the display will definitely take some heat off his back and would have given him a little breather as he still tries to navigate his way into the hearts of Rollers’ hard to please supporters.
Commenting on condition of anonymity, a source close to Rollers said the battle is not so much about Folz but rather about the working relationship between the CEO and the teams’ management. “The battle here is for power, control of the team, proximity to team financier Jagdish Shah and the ability to take decisions,” the source explained.
Whichever way, another source said while the win over GU may have made some supporters to ‘forget’ the crisis which is threatening to engulf the team, the battle at Rollers is not over yet.
The source however said everyone at Rollers is happy with Folz but they believe his decisions are being unnecessarily influenced by the CEO, something which they do not subscribe to.