Trouble at GU

SHARE   |   Sunday, 24 May 2015   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Zakhem celebrating with the team after Gaborone United were crowned Mascom Top8 Champions Zakhem celebrating with the team after Gaborone United were crowned Mascom Top8 Champions PIC: RICARDO KANONO

• Zakhem accused of interference
• Some fans want him out
• He declares his full love for the team

Gaborone United (GU) are engulfed in an infighting that has split the team at the very top. Team financier Nicholas Zakhem – who has been a favourite of many – is accused constant interference in the running of the team, leaving the management committee powerless in some instances.  
One big issue that set the committee at odds with Zakhem is the new reporting line for Coach Rahman Gumbo. He is said to be now reporting to Zakhem, which was not the case before. A source with team has accused Gumbo of changing loyalties when he realised that he had become divisive among players, destroying some’s careers.
“He created divisions among players and the team because players could train and do whatever they were supposed to do, but they never understood why they were left out,” the source said. According to some GU followers they believe they did not win the Mascom Top 8 because of Gumbo, but rather because the players worked hard and told themselves that ‘we need to win this one despite everything’. With the quality of talent at their disposal, the team needs to have performed better than they did, more so that Mutual and Federal pumps in P1.2 million every year into the team.
Zakhem allegedly came into the team with a promise to channel his money into development and help grow the team. “He never wants to resolve issues; all that he wants to do is fire people,” said a source that accused Zakhem of acting like he owned the club while he was just its financier. Zakhem is further accused of going out to offload six senior players that are considered to have served GU well. The source called for elders and everyone who loves GU to come together and help rescue it. He said it was painful to see Zakhem going out to tear up the team.
“If it means paying him back all the money that he has put in the team, we are ready to do that, that man is controlling and does not listen to anyone,” he charged. Zakhem owns 51% of the business side of the team, which gives him controlling rights, but that is alleged to have clouded his judgement into thinking that he owns the club though it has been well stated in his contract.
GU fans have been urged to renew their membership cards now because those who have up-to-date membership will have a say at the Annual General Meeting that will be held in July. The recently sacked under 23 coach Pio Paul is said to join the team as the assistant coach, while Dragojlo Stajnolovic will be the technical director. When reached for comment, the team’s Public Relations manager Kabelo Brown couldn’t comment on the issue, referring enquiries to the Secretary General Herbert Letsebe.
“Right now we are looking at the report that the coach submitted. We are preparing for the Mascom Top 8 awards and the AGM. Our committee hasn’t made decisions on anything yet,” Letsebe said. When reached for comment, the man behind the alleged spectacle Zakhem said that all that has been said about him are lies. He said his relationship with the committee has been excellent since the time he got in. He even referred to them as good people and couldn’t understand why someone will say those things about him. He even denied the allegations that he has already extended Gumbo‘s contract with a year. “I haven’t signed any new contract with anyone, and as for me I don’t even think the coach has done that badly. There are only two cups in the country and we won one and finished the other one in position four, that is not bad at all,” he said. He added that right now he is looking forward to the new league, declaring his love and commitment to GU, which he said is very evident as to how he celebrates whenever his team wins. When called Gumbo declined to comment on the phone and said he will call back but never did.

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