Friday, June 21, 2024

Rollers on mission to revive yester year glory

Notable successes for Township Rollers were in the early and mid nineties when the team won highest honours in the country. That ranged from tournaments and league championships.
In 1993, the team won the lucrative Coca-Cola Cup and successfully defended it the following season. In 1995, they did not do well in Coca-Cola Cup but went on to win the league. It can be remembered that when the first round ended, Rollers had re-written history books by not losing even a single game. At the end of the campaign, they had only lost two games and led their runners-up by a huge margin. They had gone into the first round without conceding a single loss. In 1996, Rollers once again won the Coca-Cola Cup.

But the wheels started coming off as from 1997 and the team found itself dangling in the middle of the league table and tournaments slipped through their fingers. In 1998, it was even worse because they had to avoid relegation in the last two games. Since then, Rollers are yet to go back to their glory years where success was the order of the day. Currently, Rollers do not excel as they used to.

In their successful years, Rollers were under the tutelage of Zambian Freddie Mwila, who at one time, doubled by coaching the senior national team, the Zebras. After Mwila left, another Zambian, Edwin Kanyantta, took the reigns until his untimely death a few years latter.

Rollers Public Relations Officer, Kaizer Sekaba, sings praises of Mwila and says Rollers were successful mainly because of him and are yet to find a coach of his caliber.

“Honestly speaking, since Mwila left, Rollers have never been the same. That Zambian man revolutionised Rollers and his record is there for everybody to see. We are yet to see someone of his caliber not only at Rollers but among local teams in Botswana. There is a lot of pressure at Rollers to bring success and Mwila absorbed it with ease,” he said.

Sekaba also told The Sunday Standard that Mwila had an eye for good players and almost all players he recommended for a team were effective.
“Remember that Mwila was the one who brought Joseph Chikoti to the team. Since Chikoti left, there has never been a striker of his caliber. Chikoti made a huge impact despite the fact that he was slow. Other strikers are quick but they never make an impact like Chikoti used to. One thing also about Mwila was that when he joined us, he did believe in offloading of the players as is the norm with most new coaches. He worked on both their strength and weaknesses of the available players and achieved the results,” he said.

Sekaba said that after Mwila left, Kanyantta came and he also achieved a lot because he did not have much work to do. He said the foundation was already there for Kanyantta and there was no room for him to fail.

Since Rollers results are unpredictable these years, Sekaba said many people are going to be taken by surprise from the beginning of next season.
“As from this coming season we will be untouchable. First and foremost, we would like to have an experienced coach with a reputable track record. We do not want someone who only coached elite league teams, but the national teams as well. I am not saying our current coach, Daniel Nare, is not doing a good job. He has an incredible vision and potential and as Rollers, we would like to develop him so that he becomes a cut above the rest. We would also like to recruit a coach from as far as East or West Africa. Most of our local team coaches are from neighbouring countries and play similar type of football, but we want something different that will yield results for the team,” he said.

Rollers’ current hot and cold performance can somehow be attributed to an exodus of players, especially those who left for neighbouring South Africa. After winning both the Coca-Cola Cup and the league in their first year in the Premier League, they failed to maintain their momentum because invaluable players left for South Africa. Pheyo Mongala and Moemedi Moatlhaping, who are both national team material, joined both Pretoria University and Silver Stars, respectively. Mogogi Gabonamong on the other hand joined Cape Town Santos.


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