For many years, South African teams were not eager to play friendly games in Botswana. They would rather go to neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Angola. The only team that has been heeding Botswana’s call is Jomo Cosmos because the team comes to Botswana almost every year. Just a year and half ago Cosmos Played a friendly against Rollers and lost by three goals to two. A year before that Cosmos also played against the Zebras and lost the game by two goals without reply.
Other teams wanted a hefty appearance fees which were difficult for local teams to raise. Currently, South African teams are swamping the Botswana shores for a series of friendly games because their league is in recess. Just over the weekend Moroka Swallows, together with Cosmos, were expected to play friendly games with local sides, Extension Gunners and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
Today (Sunday) Free State Province based and one of South Africa’s largely followed side, Bloemfontein Celtic will be locking horns with another popular local team, Township Rollers at the National Stadium. A week later Rollers will once again square off with North Western Province side, Platinum Stars. There are even reports that several local players might be headed to South Africa for lucrative contracts.
Former Rollers coach, Daniel Nare, told Sunday Standard that the developments are good for local soccer and it shows that the South Africans are starting to seriously take note of the local soccer. Nare said local soccer has improved in the past few years and it is not surprising for the South Africans to challenge local teams.
“Botswana is no more a walkover country and many countries like South Africa know that very well. Also our few local players there are doing very well and it is not surprising to find four South African top teams coming for the friendly games in Botswana. One South African coach once told me that even the national team would keep on playing friendly games with Botswana,” he said.
Celtics, on the other hand, have proved to be one of South Africa’s strong teams over the past five years. Since their promotion from the first Division, they did not only improve in their performance but also mobilised a lot of support. Currently, Celtics are threatening the traditionally largely supported teams, Orlando Pirates, Kaiser Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.
Rollers Managing Director pleaded to all Rollers supporters to attend today’s game in large numbers. He said the game would also be a build up to the second round of the Premier League that starts next weekend.
“All Rollers supporters should come in their numbers and I hope they will. We want to show the South Africans that we also have many supporters. Once there are many supporters, the team gets encouragement and can win.”