Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Surviving the chop becomes Mwaanga?s greatest challenge

Stoppage time was almost approaching and Prisons XI were looking forward to getting a valuable point and ease their relegation woes. Unfortunately, it was not to be as substitute William Motsamai made sure that Gaborone United (GU) pocketed maximum points. After the goal, Prisons XI coach, Stanley Mwaanga, looked a worried man. He did not shout instructions as he normally does but just stood on the touchline. Even after the final whistle Mwaanga did not immediately leave the bench to slap shoulders with his players and officials of rivals GU.
Perhaps, Mwaanga was thinking about the precarious situation that Prisons XI finds itself in.

With almost all the bottom three teams having registered victories last weekend, Prisons were pushed to the bottom of the league table. The situation Prisons XI is in now also means that Mwaanga is facing the biggest challenge of his career since he started coaching in Botswana. The three teams he has coached before always fought for honours but now it is a different story he has to avoid relegation. Mwaanga has been to Serowe?s Miscellaneous, Ecco City Green and GU. Ecco City is on course for their first ever championship medal, and even before Mwaanga left, the team was still a force to reckon with.

Mwaanga took it from the Second Division and consecutively guided it to both the First Division and the Premier League. While Ecco City were still in the First Division, Mwaanga surprised many people by leading Ecco City to the semi-finals of the lucrative Coca Cola cup and the now defunct World Group Independence. At Gaborone United, he helped build a strong team which incumbent coach, Luke Masomere is working on. Unfortunately, he was fired at GU before finishing his building exercise peaked.

After achieving duties at Prisons XI, he encountered several challenges that some people see as the reasons behind the team?s poor run. Several of Prisons XI?s key players were injured. The trio of veteran Oneeleng Radikara, Moses Magwaneng and Tatenda Mbikiwa has seen little action since the season began. Mbikiwa and Magwaneng have just returned but are struggling with fitness while Radikara is still out but reports from the camp suggest that he might even call it a day.

To add salt to injury, Mwaanga?s work permit took longer than he expected and he only got it last week, after waiting for three months. Mwaanga had to work with what he had and what pained about Prisons XI is that of the games the team played, they either draw or narrowly lost. In most of the games they played, Prisons XI conceded goals at crucial times, especially towards the end of the game.

With only nine games to go and trailing the league, the warders have to pull up their socks if they are to avoid the dreaded axe or else they will find themselves in dusty grounds next season.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.