Undoubtedly, the toast of the Mascom Premier league this year has been Ecco City Greens with their seamless performance.
Formed in 1992, the Francistown outfit weathered a seismic culture shock in the elite league and took every one by storm by winning the premier league, a feat that had proved insurmountable for the three Ta’s of Francistown; Tafa, Tafic and Tasc.
It was in the middle of the first round that the Mamoja Diskie juggernaut began to roll; the team racked up wins in scintillating fashion and when they carried the form to the second round they began to woo skeptics previously uncertain of their ability to deliver.
At the centre of their performance was Barry Daka, an old hand in the football fraternity. Daka had won three league titles in Zimbabwe before guiding Ecco to their maiden league cup. Daka, who has been in the game long before some of Ecco’s stars were born, has showed unbridled enthusiasm that betrayed his age.
A pragmatic, he favoured substance over style. As a result, Ecco preserved their energy well, scored many goals with minimal effort, and broke some hearts.
As other teams began to wilt, Ecco’s strength and depth began to show.
In the blistering blockbuster against Center Chiefs at the National Stadium, Ecco’s demolition of the pretenders was an eloquent riposte to those who thought the Francistowners could never win the title.
Typically of him, the modest Daka sidestepped the praise and passed the glory to the young batch of players.
Not to disappoint their coach, the quartet of Abdenico Powell, Malepa Bolelang, Mandla Enkosi Sibanda and Thabo Sembowe put on an awe inspiring performance.
It was Nicholas Matlhare who rose like a colossal, and left, in his trail, a season to remember.
It was not a walk in the park though; Ecco stuttered a couple of times, losing heavily to Township Rollers, Police XI and Santos.
Their closest rivals, Centre Chiefs and BDF had a sniff at the title and began to believe they were in with a chance.
The two strung together a series of good performance but no sooner had they put their championship ambition on track did they run helplessly out of steam.
In the end Barry Daka’s untouchables remained just that ÔÇô untouchable.
They say in football everyone remembers the winner, but Mochudi Centre Chiefs put on a brilliant performance that had surely endeared them in the hearts of many supporters.
They provided the league with some memorable moments.
They started like whirlwind but finished like a whimper.
In the end, their high scoring wins against Satmos and Prisons proved largely inconsequential.
Chico Nare laid a magic carpet for Magosi but watched as his former team pulled it form under his feet. In the beginning, Chiefs looked every bit like championship material playing a kind of football that was a class apart.
They fell victim to their ‘royal pride’ or, should we say, delusions of grandeur?
There was an option to freeze their games when their players were on national duty, but perhaps out of a false sense of arrogance chose to play on anyway, with grave repercussions.
With one eye on the Olympic qualifiers and the other on the Mascom league, the strain of demands led to adverse collusion of vision, leading to dispersion of focus. If the young Zebras don’t qualify for the Olympics, Magosi players would have nothing to show in a season that promised a lot for them.
It was not all doom and gloom for Magosi though, in Pontsho Moloi they have the Mascom top goal scorer and a strong contender for player of the year. Piro, as he is affectionately known, is pedigree.
He is a clinical finisher and would often slot the ball home with scientific precision.
Throughout the season he made scoring look easy.
It’s not only his ability to score goals that had made him the favourite to win the player of year, his knack for creating goal scoring opportunities for others is unrivalled.
He would drop deep to collect the ball and watching him scything past defenders with his sublime theatrical antics is such a disarming experience.
In science they say for every pull there is a push and I guess in every good there is a bad. In true Newton style, the season that has just ended could not have been complete without a couple of bad decisions committed by over zealous referees.
The most heinous, however, were committed by administrators.
It has become something of a hobby to fire coaches in the local scene, and this has compromised consistency and continuity.
Coaches are deprived the chance to grow with the team.
This also weighs down on players.
It leaves coaches with little or no time to devote special attention to individual players.
Thus, our league is devoid of players who can readily exhibit in-born talent.
They also lack character because there is not enough time to nurture individual talent.
As a result, players appear as ‘robotized’ rigid and unable to adapt to different styles of play.
When your future is not certain, building for long term pales into obscurity.
The primary goal is survival and retaining one’s job.
Both locally and abroad, coaches who have been given time to showcase their mettle have duly repaid the loyalty with good results.
BDF XI is a force to reckon with precisely because they gave Stanley Tshosane a chance. David Bright’s achievements are there for everyone to see. He took Fighters from the lower league and built it into a powerhouse.
AC Milan showed faith in Carlo Ancelloti and he repaid them by winning the league as well as making it to the European champion’s league final three times in his six year stay. Alex Ferguson’s twenty-year stay in Manchester has not been smooth sailing.
Yet the team stuck with him even on his long dry spell of European glory.
In his twenty years, he has won the champions league once.
And this despite the fact that Manchester United was for a long time the richest team in Europe.
Coaches are like a self-fulfilling prophecy; you believe they are good they will deliver; you believe they are bad they turn exactly that.
The way coaches have changed teams this season alone reads like nursery rhyme. Exit Ndlovu enter Nare; out goes Bright in comes Clever; away goes Stanley, in comes Luke (Masomere).
If our football administrators don’t give the coaching department the necessary respect they deserve we will continue to get mediocrity.
Once again, violence reared its ugly head on the local game. The despicable scenes displayed by the Gunners fans against Rollers in the last game of the season were an eyesore.
It dispelled whatever little notion that suggested the specter of hooliganism is a fading force in our football.
After being suspended for unruly behaviour, one could have thought the punishment would deter the fans from engaging in any heinous act. The safety of both players and referees is still at the mercy of bloodthirsty fans.
While the effort of the association to insist on teams to provide security is plausible the onus should be on the football loving masses to demonstrate responsible behaviour that would make our stadia places where families can go on an outing without fear.
Controversy still remains the monkey on BFA’s back.
The Association’s ability to jump from one scandal to another is disturbingly amazing. The Simakwenzi issue is perhaps the nadir in the association’s year.
The case threw uncertainty into the Coca-Cola Cup, and tainted the image of sport.
It was vintage BFA who, on Rollers’ side, ordered Simakwenzi not to play minutes before kick off, only to somersault and order a replay two days before the final.
When the transfer window closed in January, the Association was again shrouded in a controversy regarding Tintos Raditsebe – a former Rollers player who was said to have been improperly registered with Notwane.
Points were deducted from Notwane and awarded to teams which the said player was used against only for the Association to realize their mistake and give Notwane back their points.
And who said lightning does not strike twice?