Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The fumbling giants of the Coca-Cola Cup

The so-called big teams in the country are the ones expected to win almost everything on offer ranging from league championships to tournaments.

In Botswana, it could be the case to a certain extent because several big guns have won several titles while others always fumble and, for that matter, fumble where it matters the most.
For instance, of all the largely followed teams, it is Township Rollers that has won the lucrative Coca Cola Cup the most.

Gunners and Tafic have only won it once while GU and Chiefs are yet to. Rollers won it in 1993, 94, 96 and in 2005.
In 2005, Mapalastina, as Rollers are fondly called, made more history by also winning the league championship.
Memorable players for Rollers in those glorious years of 1993-96 include the likes of Thabo Motang, Mmoni ‘States’ Segopolo, Desmond Molefhe, Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul, Moshe ‘Killer’ Dipatane, Moshoeshoe Molelekwa and Joseph Chikoti. In 2005, Rollers had a youthful squad and the only senior players then were Segopolo, Lesego Moeng and Tshephiso Molwantwa.
The youthful players who made it all happen for the blues were mainly Phenyo ‘Mzambiya’ Mongala, Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping, Tshepo ‘Schoolboy’ Molefhe.

It was not surprising in the following season to see Mongala and Moatlhaping earning themselves foreign contracts at South African Premier League side, Silver Stars (now Platinum Stars). Mongala would then be loaned to the University of Pretoria while Moatlhaping has since returned home for reasons that are not clear. It was shocking to see him back because he did well in his first season.

Gunners, on the other hand, won the first edition in 1992 while Tafic won it in 2002. By the time Tafic clinched it, they were led by an all time old horse of the north, Mmoloki ‘Best Belt’ Sechele.

Sechele would also lead Tafic to the Semifinals the following year where they lost 3-0 to Township Rollers. Sechele had other loyal players like Bakang ‘BK’ Meno and Abedinico Thuthuka.

Gaborone United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs are some of the prominent teams to have not won the tournament and pressure is always mounting on both teams to do something every year the tournament gets underway.

GU are, however, better off than Centre Chiefs because they have been to a couple of finals while Chiefs have never been.

The memorable final for GU was in 1993 when they lost to archrivals, Township Rollers 4-1. Since then the Reds have been trying but that 1993 spark is not there in the current team.

Chiefs, on the other hand, have never reached any Coca Cola Cup final.
They, however, made history by winning the league championship for the first time in their history and without losing even a single game. Whether that could steer them to another historic moment of Coca Cola glory remains to be seen.

Centre chiefs look poised to win the Coca-Cola Cup this season because they have since opened this season with a bang. They have already won the annual Orange Kabelano Charity tournament.

Also to date, they have not lost a single player and almost all the current players are the ones that did duty for the team last season. Chiefs are also preying on other teams’ players to beef their team ahead of the tournament, something that has irked other teams’ officials. The worrying factor is that most Chiefs players had a hectic season last season, including national team duty and that might work against them during the Coca Cola campaign.

Since coming back from the First Division three seasons ago, GU has been doing well in almost every season in the league. Last season they even finished as runners up and that, maybe, could help them to challenge for a major tournament like the Coca-Cola Cup.


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