Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Why does the luster fade after winning a championship?

Notable teams that successively won their league titles three times in a row are Township Rollers in the mid eighties and Lobtrans Gunners in 1992, 93 and 94. Nowadays, things are different and teams even fail to defend the title once. In the mid eighties Rollers was the most feared team as they won many tournaments in a row. Even though Rollers was also strong in the mid nineties they only won the league title once, and that was in 1995.

Lobtrans Gunners still remains the most recent team to win the league title three times in a row and that record is yet to be broken. When Rollers returned with a bang in the 2004/05 season, many thought Rollers would go back to its winning ways because they not only won the league but also the lucrative Coca-Cola Cup. But the following season, they failed to defend both titles. Police XI are the current defending champions, but it looks unlikely for them to retain the title. They have been inconsistent since the beginning of the league and some teams, like Mochudi Centre chiefs, Ecco City Green and BDF XI have emerged as the firm favourites.

If Chiefs? or Ecco City clinches the title, it would be the first time for them to do so in their history.
Former Gunners player and incumbent Chiefs co-coach, Daniel Nare, attributes several factors for lack of retaining league titles by the teams. He said most teams do not have depth, or a pool of players to choose from. He emphasised that Police are unlikely to retain the title because most of their players are fatigued and the team did not beef the current team with the experienced ones.

?Police have a very good team, and I was not surprised when they won the title last season. The problem is that they do not have a pool of players to choose from. They have been using the same players in most of their games and that becomes a problem when some get injured or get suspended. Most of Police XI players are now tired and if they had a pool of good ones they were not going to have problems in defending their title. But as I see things now they have to triple their efforts if they are to defend their title.

In regard to Rollers, Nare told Sunday Standard Sport that they also had their fair share of problems. He said after winning the league Rollers sacked their coach, Banks Panene, who is now with Notwane. When the new coach arrived he came with a different system and players had to adapt to it and it took time. Nare also added that some players that also helped Rollers to win the league left the team. That meant that new players came in and had to understand the culture of the team.

Nare also said Gunners won the league three times in a row because they had a strong management that was always hungry for success. He said the then Gunners management, which was led by Rashid Chopdat, retained many good players for years.

?By then Gunners had many players and for that matter good ones. It was also not easy for Gunners players to move around joining other teams and they made a great squad. Keeping many good players in one team is something many local teams are finding difficult to do but it is very important, or else teams will just win the league once in a while,? he said.

Nare gave an example of defending English Premier League Chelsea, saying the team successfully defended their title last season and it is possible for them to do it again this season. He said after winning the league, Chelsea did not lose the cream of their players and, instead, they keep on reinforcing their squad. ?They do not say we won it last season and we must relax; they always desire to win titles, something that is healthy for the development of football in any country,? he said.

One soccer fan, Thabo Seitibale, said that teams sometimes tend to lose focus after winning the league. He said players tend to tell themselves that they are the best and fail to produce the same magic they produced in the previous season.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.