The transfer window has been open for about a week now and the developments are notable already.
Some teams mean business nowadays and loyalty days for players are almost over. So far, teams that have shown seriousness for the upcoming season are Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs. Both teams have since made it clear that they want to win one of the major trophies, such as the League and the lucrative Coca-Cola Cup. Although Notwane won the Kabelano Charity Cup, they are yet to register big names. Chiefs are yet to win a major trophy or the league, while Rollers have won both more times than any other team in Botswana. Last season, however, was one of Rollers’ worst because they only won the Kabelano Charity Cup and once again faltered in winning the league and the Coca-Cola Cup. They, however, came close to winning the Coca Cola Cup last year, but board room decisions denied them that chance. The ‘Blues’, as Rollers are affectionately known, have surprised many people by signing the man Rollers supporters would love to hate, Bernard Simakwenzi. Rollers managed to finalise everything for Simakwenzi by Thursday after lengthy negotiations with BDF XI.
Rollers managing director Somereset Gobuiwang also confirmed to Sunday Standard that they had officially registered the player and was supposed to feature in weekend games of the Coca Cola Cup. Simakwenzi was the man at the centre of controversy for Rollers’ failure to win the Coca Cola Cup. Since then Rollers supporters always bayed for his blood whenever the two teams met. It all started before the semifinals of the Coca Cola Cup when Rollers alleged Simakwenzi was a defaulter. He did not feature in the game which Rollers won 3-0 but BDF XI lodged a successful appeal. A replay was ordered but Rollers failed to pitch up for the game and BDF XI was awarded a passage to the finals. After the game, a legal battle ensued between Rollers and the Botswana Football Association. However, both parties ended up smoking a peace pipe.
Simakwenzi, however, has proved himself to be selfless strikers who can single handedly destroy the opponents. In most of the games he played at BDF XI, he either scored vital goals or created others for his fellow strikers. Rollers have also managed to snatch Under 23 captain, Mmusa Ohilwe under the noses of most teams. Just like Simakwenzi, Ohilwe had most teams knocking at his door almost on a daily basis but Rollers ended up convincing him. Ohilwe has led the Under 23 to a successful spell in Botswana’s history. For the first time in Botswana’s history, the Under 23 lost in the last hurdle before the All Africa Games against South Africa. The Under 23 also qualified for the first time, for the group stages of the Olympics. Just last week, the team, under the leadership of Ohilwe, once again did Botswana proud by bowing out in the finals of the Sasol eight nations’ tournament in South Africa. The team beat African powerhouses such as Cameroon and Ghana. The team also demolished their Asian counterparts, China, 4-0 at the tournament. At the Sasol tournament, Botswana defence led by Ohilwe conceded only one goal in the five games they played.
Ohilwe also remains one of the few players to have played all the Under 23 games this year. And he is very disciplined. With Joel Mogorosi already in Rollers books after a short stint in Cyprus, it looks like nothing will stop Rollers to achieve what they set themselves out to do this season. Centre Chiefs could, however, be the biggest menace to Rollers because they have also assembled one of the strongest teams in their history. Rollers have also roped another two enterprising BMC midfielders, Thebe Maiketso and Edwin Moalusi.
Chiefs, on the other hand, have added salt to BDF XI’s injury by taking one of the feared strikers, Mpho Mabogo, who played for BDF XI for many seasons. The acquisition of Mabogo by Centre Chiefs means that the team will be spoiled for choice upfront because they already have star strikers such Pontsho and Keaketse Moloi and another Under 23 sensation, Jerome Ramatlhakwane. Chiefs have also registered long serving Lobtrans Gunners sharp shooter, Tshepo ‘Talk Talk’ Motlhabankwe. Motlhabankwe is going to bolster the already tight Chiefs’ midfield made up of the likes of Aaron Kale, Stephen Maposa, Oteng Moalosi and Molathegi Podile. Motlhabankwe has also left a gaping hole at Gunners where he was an all-round player. He was also a saviour of the team for the past years when they were battling relegation.
Meanwhile, Gunners are sitting on a gold mine but somehow are not yielding results. Gunners have a massive support but they are yet to make big signings and failure to do so might condemn the team to the lower division. Gunners are full of inexperienced youngsters who have potential but need guidance.