Football administrators and supporters alike were left with a sour taste in their mouths, if not dumbfounded, as the circus that is the BTC Premiership awards unfolded in front of their eyes.
While the inclusion of some names in the nominee list had raised eyebrows, many were left aghast when the winners of the BTC Premiership awards were announced.
Immediately after the announcement of the Coach of the Season and the Player of the Season winners, social media went abuzz as some made their displeasure unknown.
“That’s why gotwe We should agree to disagree gotewa goirwa dilo tse. Botswana Football Circuses Continues” (sic), sports writer Kagisano Kgaogano ranted in his Facebook post.
“I didn’t go to the BPL Awards nor watch them, mme hela ke itsitse gore boloi bo a go direga (but I knew witchcraft will happen),” (sic) sports scribe Tshepo Molwane wrote on his post.
In what was a watershed moment at the awards, Township Rollers winger Lemponye Tshireletso was voted Player of the Season ahead of his team-mate Simisani Mathumo and Jwaneng Galaxy goalkeeper Anthony Gouws.
Going into the awards, Mathumo, who was very influential as Rollers clinched the league title, was seen by many as the favourite for the award.
Speaking to Sunday Standard in an interview on the sidelines of the awards, Kgaogano felt Mathumo was hard done by during the awards.
“Mathumo marshalled the Rollers defence very well, more especially following the loss of Mogogi Gabonamong to injury. Aside from leading the team from the back, he was very consistent and he also pitched in with some very crucial match winning goals for Rollers. For me, Mathumo deserved to win the award,” Kgaogano said.
“There is no doubt that Tshireletso is a good player but this season he wasn’t at his best. In Botswana we choose winners without thinking, that’s why our football e sa gole. Hardy Simisani,” Molwane commented on his post.
Reached for comment, Yarona FM Sports anchor Kagiso Phatsimo also expressed disappointment at the award.
“I don’t agree with FC (Tshireletso’s) award. He was just ordinary this past season. Mathumo, on the other hand, improved massively and was more consistent,” he opined.
The same sentiment was shared by Mmegi Sports writers Mqondisi Dube, who described the awards as a circus.
“For me, Mathumo deserved to win the award, but I would have not had much to say had it been won by Gouws, who I believed was a strong contender. For me, Tshireletso should not even have been in the nominee list,” Dube opined.
The feeling was also mutual in the Rollers camp with some of the team’s prominent members feeling Mathumo was hard done by the awards.
“Mathumo must be the unluckiest player in the country. No matter how hard he works, he seems to go unrecognised. Both Mathumo and Tshireletso are my players, but Mathumo should have won the Player of the Season award,” said one Rollers official.
In fact, according to the official, it still raises unanswered questions why Tshireletso was nominated ahead of Tshepo Motlhabankwe.
“Talk Talk” (Motlhabankwe) played more games than any Rollers player this season and was very consistent. Along the season, he also notched many ‘Man of the Match awards,’ probably more than any player at Rollers. It beats me why he was not nominated,” the Rollers official wondered.
Another award which polarised opinions was that of the Coach of the Season, which went to Township Rollers gaffer Mogomotsi Mpote. “Teenage”, as Mpote is affectionately known, beat Galaxy’s Mike Sithole and Security System’s Thaloba Nthaga to clinch the award.
Commenting on condition of anonymity, one football administrator fumed. “These awards were rigged. The Player of the Season and the Coach of the Season awards were a sham.”
“Sithole should have won this award. If he could coach all season long and finish second in the league, produce a Player of the Season and a Goalkeeper of the Season along the way, then he probably deserves to be named Coach of the Season,” the football administrator said steadfastly.
“A couple of seasons ago, Sithole was denied the Coach of the Season Award because as they said then, he had not coached the team for the whole season. Now it seems the rules have changed and a coach who has not coached his team for the duration of the season has won the award, this is not right,” Dube said.
For his part, Kgaogano concurred that as Mpote had only coached half a season at the helm of Rollers, his nomination and win were questionable.
Commenting on the Coach of the Season award, Phatsimo had this to say: “At least Mpote could argue that he was unbeaten in 15 league games, plus he was part of the technical team from when the league started. That one I can stomach.”
Meanwhile, the list of winners at the BTC Premiership are as follows; Tshireletso (Player of the Season), Gouws (Goalkeeper of the Season), Mpote (Coach of the Season), Thato Kebue (Young Player of the Season), Thero Setsile (Players’ Player of the Season), Terrence Mandaza (Top Goal Scorer), Mathumo (Supporters’ Player of the Season), Gabonamong (BPL Chairman’s Award), Moemedi Monakwana (Assistant referee of the Season) and Joshua Bondo (Referee of the Season).
This year’s BTC Premiership were hosted at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) this past Friday.