The Botswana Premier League (BPL) circus took another turn in midweek with Township Rollers awarded back seven on their 10 docked points. BPL Disciplinary Committee on Wednesday ruled that Rollers be given the points after determining that protest procedures were not followed in the cases of Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Miscellaneous, hence points cannot be awarded to them. BPL DC heard the protests after the National Disciplinary reversed BPL acting Chairman Rapula Okaile’s decision to have Rollers docked 10 points, citing that he did not act sportingly. The NDC said the points could not be taken without hearings of the protests, hence referring the three protests to BPL DC. The BPL DC‘s purpose was only to determine if the protests were compliant with Botswana Football Association’s play rules and regulations.
The BPL DC chaired by Busang Manewe determined that the protests did not follow outlined procedures as per article 9.3 of the play rules and regulations. Article outlines that a protest must be made in writing within seven days after the game. According to records put forward Centre Chiefs and Miscellaneous did not register theirs within seven days. Only Police XI had adhered to this but they withdrew their protest. Police XI chairman Solomon Mantswe dropped the bombshell at the start of the hearing, saying because of the misfortunes brought by the case they no longer have interest in the protest. This left the DC with no option but to give Rollers their docked points except those awarded to Gilport Lions. The committee, however, maintained that Ofentse Nato was a defaulter as ruled by the NDC. This turns around completely the outcome of the 2015/2016 season as Rollers will now finish top of the league.
Rollers management welcomed the ruling, saying it is what they have always believed. “We welcome the ruling and we are happy with it. This is how we have always been interpreting the whole thing from the start,” sighed Rollers Secretary Khumoyame Masonya. Masonya nonetheless revealed that they are soldiering on with the case they lodged before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s ruling. He said the case is a different one as they are fighting Nato’s declaration as a defaulter. “We believe that we registered the player lawfully and we want CAS to determine over this,” explained Masonya. It, however, looks like the tussle is far from over, as aggrieved Centre Chiefs look set to appeal the ruling. The club’s spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi said they have all the intention of appealing the case. Mogomotsi said they are happy and feel that the local football judicial structures have failed them. “These structures have let us down not only in this matter. As you can remember, it happened again in the Mascom Top 8,” said Mogomotsi. He said this will not demoralise them as they will keep fighting until justice finally prevails. Following the Wednesday ruling it means Centre will lose the championship honours to Rollers. Meanwhile Miscellaneous, on the other hand, indicated that they will not be appealing the matter. Masonya regretted recent developments, saying they were unfortunate and have the potential to affect the image and credibility of local football. “Look right now the league is over and it is not clear who the champions are. This affects the players who have worked very hard all season for the title only for this to happen at the end,” said Masonya.
Nato to snub Zebras
Meanwhile earlier in the week Nato showed BFA the middle finger when he turned down an invitation to join the Zebras camp in a call up for the preparation for the crucial encounter against the Cranes of Uganda. The Uganda game, on June 04 in Francistown, is an important 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier. The Zebras vice-captain stopped playing competitive football after being deemed a defaulter by the Botswana Football Association (BFA)'s Disciplinary Committee. This led to the former Bidvest Wits and Mpumalanga Black Aces midfielder not featuring in Rollers' final beMOBILE Premiership games of the 2015/16 season.
Nato told the media during the week that he is not physically and mentally fit to play for the Zebras. "I haven't been active for a month and my fitness isn't up to scratch. Even mentally I'm not in a good shape. This is a crucial qualifier, it needs players who are fully fit to go out there and fight for the country. I'll be fully behind the team," Nato said. Nato is expected to re-join Atletico de Kolkata soon ahead of the start of the 2016 Indian Super League (ISL) season. Butler's wishlist Twenty seven players have been identified for Zebras' preliminary squad as they prepare for friendly matches against Lesotho and Malawi in Serowe and Francistown, the African Nations Cup qualifier against Uganda and the Cosafa Castle Cup in Namibia. Coach Peter Butler was expected to have all players in a training camp over the weekend, but that may not be as Nato and two South African based players have not reported for camp. The two players are expected to join after their season ends over the weekend.
The Zebras squad
Kabelo Dambe, Keagile Kgosipula (both Township Rollers?), Mwampule Masule (Botswana Defence Force XI), Robert Mosimanegape (Orapa United), Ookeditse Semelamela (BR Highlanders)
Mosha Gaolaolwe (Botswana Defence Force XI), Thato Kebue (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Boitumelo Mafoko (Galaxy FC), Olekantse Mambo (Orapa United), Arnold Mampori (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Keolopile Molemi (Botswana Defence Force XI), Lesenya Ramoroka (Orapa United), Tebogo Sosome (Galaxy FC)
Segolame Boy (Township Rollers), Lebogang Ditsele (Gilport Lions), Tapiwa Gadibolae (Police XI), Onkabetse Makgantai, Lemogang Maswena (both Orapa United), Galabgwe Moyana, Ofentse Nato (both Township Rollers), Mogakolodi Ngele (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Kabelo Seakanyeng (Gaborone United), Lemponye Tshireletso (Mochudi Centre Chiefs)
Omaatla Kebatho (Vasco da Gama, South Africa), Joel Mogorosi (Township Rollers), Hendrick Moyo (Gaborone United), Thabang Sesenyi (Orapa United).