Thursday, January 28, 2021

Surviving in elite league in first season a tall order for most teams

Surviving the relegation dogfight has proved to be a mission impossible for several teams making appearance in the elite league. Most teams immediately go back to the First Division after just a season’s stay.

In Botswana, teams like Jwaneng Comets, Blue Diamonds, just to mention two, stayed for the promotional season only to be relegated the following season.
Last season, Naughty Boys and Great North Tigers (GNT) made it to the elite league and already the going is tough for Naughty Boys who are languishing at the bottom of the table.

Also three seasons ago, Naughty Boys were relegated only to bounce back the following season.
Predicting the fate of GNT is still tough because there is still a long way to go before the season ends. Nevertheless two seasons ago, Mogoditshane Fighters and Boteti made it to the Premier League and they both stayed.

Boteti is the one that surprised many people looking at the tough and complex situation it has compared to many teams. Some people thought it would also immediately go back to the lower leagues but it was not to be as they finished in respectable position 10.
Boteti, in the first place, is based in Orapa and they travel long distances for their away games. Their traveling stretches to Francistown, Gaborone and Lobatse.

Obviously, traveling, especially to the northern parts of the country has a toll on the players. The team also normally travels the day before the games, something most players cannot cope with. The team also came in the Premier League with a relatively unknown squad, with the only exception being Kgakgamatso Pharo, who had a stint at BDF XI and BMC. Just like many teams in the country, the team does not have an official sponsor.

Even though the team lost three consecutive games, they are not in a precarious situation and their chances of survival are still there.

Most Premier league teams are under the tutelage of foreign coaches and Boteti is one of the five under local coaches.
Team coach, Kenneth Mogae, told Sunday Standard that determination is their main driving force for their survival.

“It is every player’s desire to see themselves playing in the Premier League. It is also every coach’s desire in the country to coach in the Premier League. We had to be determined at the team to maintain our status and that’s why we are still in the Premier League and I am confident that even next year we will still be here. I have to give credit to my players because they play with character,” he said.

Mogae also told Sunday Standard that he did not have any big names because he believes in his own products, some of whom he has been coaching for some time.

“Of course, the team needs reinforcement in certain areas, but I am one coach who believes in making and using his own players. Most of the players at Boteti have been with me for some time from the time when I was at Stone Breakers. I do not believe much in big names because I need players who will understand and listen to me at all times. Big names are good but sometimes they can be a disappointment. Even this season, I have not signed big names but have reinforced the team with some players from the Boteti region and they are doing well,” he said.

Mogae also had a brilliant time with Major David Bright at the national Under 23s last season when he was the assistant. The team managed for the first time to qualify for the Olympic Games and even bowed out in the last lap for the All Africa Games.
Mogae said it was a great time but, on the other hand, it had a negative impact on his team.

“Those were some of the highlights of my coaching career. But it had an impact at my team. My team was new in the Premier League and I was away for most of the matches. These were some of the challenges I was facing but I am happy the team managed to survive,” he said. Mogae is currently the assistant coach of senior national team coach, Stanley Tshosane.

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