Thursday, February 29, 2024

Takeaways from the action filled Mascom Top 8 weekend

The Telegraph reporter, Botlhale Koothupile, takes a bird’s eye view of the state of our football for the past week.

The BTC Premiership will once again take centre stage this week following an interesting and dramatic Mascom Top 8 semi-finals weekend action.

And what a dramatic weekend it was! On the field of play, the two semi-finals were a good advert for local football and the Botswana Premier League (BPL) brand. On the administration side, what an embarrassment!

Here are the takeaways from the action filled weekend

Rollers have to regain their mojo …, fast!

To say Township Rollers came out unstuck against city rivals Gaborone United (GU) will be an understatement. The blue side of Gaborone was literally dragged screaming and howling out of the Mascom Top 8. Doubt it?

When Rollers were informed that they were to go to the penalties, whether right or wrong, all hell broke loose. Had it not been for the interference of the team’s General Manager Sydney Magagane, who went pitch side and nearly came to blows with his team’s agitated team manager and players, Rollers would have walked away from the game, and would be facing the full wrath of the law.

Now having been painfully kicked out of the Mascom Top 8, Rollers only hope for silverware this season lies in the BTC Premiership. And looking at how Rollers has thrown what at one point seemed an unassailable lead in the BTC Premiership title race, the team will have to quickly banish the memories of this past weekend, regroup and come back fighting.

Rollers will be back in action this coming Saturday when they visit Orapa United and for the already under pressure coach Rodolfo Zapata and his charges, only a win will do. Should they fail to win and Galaxy win, they will find themselves shafted to position two in the BPL league log come Sunday morning.

Can Galaxy do a double this season?

Jwaneng Galaxy easily swatted BDF XI 2 ÔÇô 1 to book themselves a place in the Mascom Top 8 finals this past weekend. The boys from Jwaneng are now on the verge of history. If they win the Top 8 final next month, they will join GU and Rollers as the only team to have won the tournament twice.

Galaxy’s prospects in the BTC Premiership title race are also looking as bright as a galaxy of stars in a clear night sky. After 19 games, they are just two points behind Rollers. Should Rollers falter against Orapa United on Saturday and they beat Police XI, they will be at the top of the league by the end of the week.

If their win against BDF XI is anything to go by, it is easy to say Jwaneng Galaxy are not just league contenders, they are serious title contenders. Coach Miguel da Costa is brewing something good in Jwaneng, and the brew may be intoxicatingly delish.

Did the match commissioner and LOC influence the outcome of a match?

For a football mad country that is dreaming of professionalization of the sport, we are still galaxies away from reaching this dream, if the melee and confusion of the past weekend can be used as a yardstick.

The weekend’s confusion confirmed what have been said all along, that our football administrators, both at the Botswana Football Association (BFA), Botswana Premier League (BPL) and at team level are clueless about running the game, let alone understanding the rules of the game.

How did a match commissioner and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) command the restart of a match? The match commissioner and the LOC have no authority on what happens in the field of play during a match, period!

As a deployee of the BFA, the match commissioner failed in his duties. In his pre match briefing, he failed to analyse the possibilities of the outcome of the game and advice the referees accordingly as is his duty.

By authorising that penalties be taken to decide the outcome of the game after the referee had brought the game to an end, the match commissioner and the LOC may be deemed to have influenced the outcome of the match.

The referee’s decision is final, right?

Wrong! Not in Botswana. Not when a match commissioner and the LOC, who sit at the official’s box during the match can decide to order a referee to restart a game.

How the referee decided to go against his own judgment and be authorised to go back into the field of play after he had called the game is amusing.

According to the FIFA laws of the game, the referee’s decision is final. By allowing the match commissioner and the LOC to order him to resume the game, the referee forfeited his duties.

Now, the question should be, ‘can our referees be unduly influenced to decide an outcome of an official match?’

Our administrators need to be taken back to school

When the Mascom Top 8 melee started, team officials were seen encroaching into the pitch. While Magagane of Rollers is hailed for doing right and convincing his team’s technical bench and players not to walk away is commendable, for him to walk into the field of play is against the rules. The Rollers General Manager should not have been allowed into the field of play.

The less said about the Gaborone United financier Nicholas Zakhem, the better! It was galling to see the investor on the field of play when a decision was being taken on whether the match should continue or not. It was even more galling to see him in a heated exchange with match officials pitch side.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see what the BFA will be doing against anyone who overstepped or overreached in his duties this past weekend. Ooh! Except that BFA is also liable for the confusion as the custodians of the game.

To Rre Maclean Letshwiti and his NEC, our football needs you more than ever before. You need to educate our administrators, both at BFA and at teams on what is expected of them and their roles. If a need be, take them to the primary school of football, back to the basics.


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