In the late 80s, current Zebras manager Colonel Sello Katse, once had that arduous task of guiding a soldier-dominated team, called Copper Chiefs, to stardom. It was not easy those days as the likes of Township Rollers dominated the local football scene. When Copper Chiefs became defunct, one of the team’s former servants had other ideas. CHRIS LEPENGA tracks the rough road that saw the birth of FC Satmos.
Upon Copper Chiefs demise, the Botswana Defence Force deployed all soldier players to various tasks within the military establishment, effectively stopping their players from joining community teams. This saw good players such as Obed Mazhani, Shaka, “Ten Ten” Tendani hanging their boots. Nico United then remained as the sole footballing hope of Selebi-Phikwe.
Former Zebras and Township Rollers goalie, a certain Samuel Thotologo Molati Sono, who had ended his playing day at Copper Chiefs from Township Rollers, decided to make better of the diminishing franchise of Copper Chiefs. In 1996, he assembled a group of schoolboys to form what is now called FC Satmos. Satmos is an ancronym from the names of this aforementioned great servant of the local game.
Sono, who is now late (may his soul rest in peace), devised a motto: “Youth Development and Professionalism”. It was a fitting maxim because the team comprised of youths who depended on Sono for their living since most of them were unemployed.
In 1997, FC Satmos was registered in the league and duly took the place of Copper Chiefs in the then Chibuku Second Division. There was no denying that Sono meant business as he assembled a very strong squad, which was, on paper at least, too strong for the second division.
Names that come to mind include Aaron “Kwasa Kwasa” Mumba, Ernest Dube, Pele Mashakola, Peter Morris, Derrick Malunga, the late Stoney “BR” Ogotseng, Madeluka Tibone Tema, “OB” Paipai and many others.
The first ever committee of FC Satmos comprised of Sono, Lawrence Piet, the late Ronald Mmotsa (May his soul rest in peace), current Premier League Secretary James Setete-Phuthego and Ambrose Moatshe.
The second division proved an acid test for Sono’s team as every team lifted their game when they met this so called star-studded side. Some of the players from teams such as Granada Wanderers, Phikwe Acardia, McAlpine, Electra and Mosquito wanted to perform well against FC Satmos so that they could get spotted by Sono and be invited to join his team. This is the trend followed by the likes of current BMC striker Otlaadisa “TRX” Mohambi when he was poached from Arcadia.
FC Satmos were merciless at their home ground. Teams always attempted in vain to avoid visiting the Satmos “Slaughter house”, as they called it. One day, Granada Wanderers were due to play Satmos at the so-called “ Slaughter house” on a Saturday afternoon. On that very morning, it as realized that the southern goal posts had been cut into two. Many believed that these were the works of Granada Wanderers who did no want to face Satmos at their grounds. However, the Botswana Football Association regional officials, at that time led by Tshepho Mphoeng and Tebro Onkabetse, moved swiftly, with the help of Sono himself. They repaired the goal posts in time for the encounter.
When the game started, Wanderers had current Uniao Flamingo Santos captain, Setlhong “ Master” Mokhondo, in goals. Satmos smashed seven goals past a hapless Mkhondo to get maximum points. The score margin of that game could have reached double figures had it not been for the heroics of Mkhondo.
The team was duly promoted to the first division. Well, the first division was not an easy affair, as Orapa teams were known for their penchant to benefit from referees. Sono knew that that his team will have to be convincing to win the division.
From his business proceeds, Son managed to beef up his team. The likes of red-hot Reuben Tshwenetshwene, Kagiso Tshelametsi were added to the team. Tshwenetshwene was signed from Mokgosi Young Fighters while Tshelametsi was signed as raw talent from Township Rollers. From neighbours Nico United came Zambian coach, the late Kenny Mwape (May his soul rest in peace) and Mogolodi “Stix” Chepete.
It came as no surprise as Satmos won the First Division campaign and was promoted to the elite league in 1999.
During their maiden season, FC Satmos showed no respect to their more illustrious opponents. Players like Mohambi, Tshelametsi, Botlhe Bolofete, Barry Hangunyu, Tibone Tema and Saul Molapo came out of their shells.
The rookies proved their mettle when they won the President Cup that very year, beating in form Mogoditshane Fighters 5-4 through a post match penalty shootout. That day, Tshelametsi showed the world that he was a gem in the making by stopping three penalties to hand Satmos the trophy.
The “Cheetahs”, as their fans affectionately dub Satmos, showed that their good run in the President Cup was no fluke when they reached the Coca Cola finals against the selfsame Mogoditshane Fighters.
Fighter’s tactician, David Bright, got his strategy right that afternoon as his team overran the youthful Satmos 3-0. Masego “Abedi” Nchingane netted a brace and the other goal came from the boot of Edwin “Cellular” Disang.
Since then, Satmos has been blowing hot and cold, sometimes even avoiding the dreaded axe of relegation by a whisker.
Last season, the team needed a last fixture victory against Mochudi Centre Chiefs to avoid the drop.
Satmos started the current season fairly well, registering some draws and a loss. Last weekend, they nearly pulled a surprise against Township Rollers, who only equalized towards the end of the game.
Satmos’ main undoing has been maladministration, with players sometimes not getting their allowances. Last season, there was the topical wrangling between long time servant of the team, Benny Pogiso Kgomela, and some committee members. It appears as if the protagonists buried the hatchet for the cause of the team this season. That can only be good for Selebi-Phikwe football, considering that another Phikwe team, Mosquito, took a dive from the elite league last season.
Coach Mooketsi “China” Mading is one man who has been there for the team through thick and thin. He has vowed to die at Satmos.
Even though the team lost some of its most prized assets such as net minder Kgosietsile Senjoba and Joseph “Wagga” Moatshe to Gaborone United and Nico United, respectively, Satmos looks balanced with the acquisition of Murambiwa “Cech” Ndlovu and Zambian Chilufya. Army man Richard “ Coach” Isaac has also decided to stay. Kgosietsile Jacob is as stable as ever at the back.
Verdict: Satmos will avoid the chop again.