Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Who is going down in the premier league?

Since the beginning of the season, all eyes have been on the log leaders, Mochudi Centre Chiefs. The main reason being that the Kgatleng outfit have been winning games left, right and centre and are yet to lose one. Normally, the second round is a two way attention grabber. Eyes would not be only at the top of the table but the bottom as well where teams fight tooth and nail to avoid the dreaded relegation axe.
This year’s battle promises to be a closely contested and exhilarating affair because there are no clear candidates for relegation to the First Division. All teams from position nine to 16 stand a chance of going down.

Ecco City Greens, Mogoditshane Fighters, Township Rollers, BDF XI, BMC, Extension Gunners, Nico United and bottom placed Jwaneng Comets all stand a chance. There is a difference of eight points between the bottom placed Jwaneng and Francistown side, Ecco City Green. Some teams, like Tafic from Francistown and Boteti from Orapa, have surprised many people by sneaking into the top eight before the end of the first round.
Boteti returned to top flight football this season and they are well aware that their past two promotions to premier league soccer did not bear fruit because, on both occasions, they just went right back to the First Division after only a season’s stay. Boteti, now under the tutelage of Under 23 assistant coach, Kenneth Mogae, look set to have gained invaluable experience, and this means that one of the teams that campaigned for some time in the Premier League might tumble. From the beginning of the first round, Boteti made their intentions known as they did not give many big guns a chance.

Tafic, on the other hand, had many people writing its obituary because they lost many games and most people thought they were once again headed to the First Division. But their last four games changed the face of the league and they are perched at position four.

The teams that might find themselves in trouble are Jwaneng Comets, Nico United, Mogoditshane Fighters and Ecco City Green. Comets have not signed any player that can help them survive the axe and if their current crop cannot sweat blood, the team might automatically relegate. Even last season, they survived by the skin of their teeth.

And just like Comets, Nico have also not gone for a well-known name but will be relying on what they had in the first round. Their big loss is Oliver Kayombo who has since joined BDF XI. The team plays good carpet football and can score goals but the problem has been the defence. Since their promotion this season, Fighters have been having problems upfront and the situation is likely to continue because they have also not signed a reputable striker. To add salt to injury, they have lost two influential midfielders, Amos ‘Shoes’ Godirwang and Monageng Thaele, who have since joined Township Rollers. Fighters are relying too much on their ageing old horses. The likes of Charles Mositwane and Anthony Molamu have lost their renowned speed and rarely trouble the opposition’s defence.

Ecco City Green might be the defending champions but they are slowly losing their momentum and it would not be surprising if they sink deeply into the relegation zone. So far, they have lost midfield dynamo, Abedinico Powell, who has joined Lobatse side, Gunners. Their youthful right winger, Tebogo Sembowa, will also not be available for most part of the season because he is going for tertiary studies in South Africa. Inspirational striker, Malepa Bolelalang, is yet to regain his full fitness after surviving an injury that sidelined him for several months.

Although Extension Gunners have been relegation candidates for more than ten years, they once again look set to survive. The team did not only sign Powell from Ecco but also Monametsi ‘Sunday’ Kelebale, who was with Nico United. Both players are proven national team quality and might trouble the opponents. BMC might also be in an uncomfortable position, but they have many enterprising young players. They might even go all the way and challenge for the top four position. BDF XI, together with Rollers, has showed their intention to escape relegation and fight for honours. BDF XI have snatched TASC duo of hard defender, Ernest Amos and Mokgathi Mokgathi, Apart from Godirwang and Thaele, Rollers have roped in industrious Joel Mogorosi who was playing in Cyprus.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.