Bots Premiership roars into life after delays
Gaborone – After a lengthy off season, Botswana’s football fans will take their seats at various stadiums over the weekend as the BTC Premiership finally roars into life.
The start of the season has been postponed three times, due to the late conclusion of the league’s sponsorship deal.
But with a record P39million sponsorship deal sealed a week ago, it’s all systems go for all the top flight’s 16 teams.
The opening week’s biggest match is 50km west of the capital, in Molepolole where fading giants, Mochudi Centre Chiefs meet an equally sleeping force in Gaborone United (GU) on Sunday.
Both sides have made shrewd signings during the off season, but GU appear to have the edge as Chiefs are still battling to shake off the financial cobwebs which were so prominent last season.
The official launch of the season takes place at the Francistown Sports Complex where defending champions, Township Rollers face returning TAFIC.
Rollers start the season as favorites to land a third consecutive title, while TAFIC, after spending two seasons in the First Division, will look to youth and vim to carry the side through.
TAFIC commands a large following in the north eastern parts of the country and their return has revived excitement.
But Rollers might carry too much artillery for the new boys who are also battling financial issues.
At Itekeng, Madinda Ndlovu’s charges welcome rookies, Unia Flamengo Santos, looking to atone for what was a disappointing campaign.
Ndlovu’s boys finished third and failed to defend the Mascom Top 8 trophy. Match three features the impressive Security Systems against BDF XI at Lobatse Sports Complex. Systems looked impressive in their debut season and managed to finish eighth, while BDF XI looked off color for much of the campaign.
In Maun, Sankoyo Bush Bucks welcome last season’s surprise package, Jwaneng Galaxy. Galaxy finished second and won the Mascom Top 8 cup in only their second season.
Sankoyo appear rejuvenated after battling off the field issues last season, but have been given a shot in the arm, after their wildlife management trust chipped in with a P1million sponsorship.
Police XI play Gilport Lions at the Police College in a low key encounter, while debutants, Sharps Shooting Stars’ encounter against crowd pullers, Extension Gunners will bring the curtain down on the opening day’s fixtures.
On Sunday, other than the big Chiefs, GU clash, Black Forest plays Miscellaneous at the Otse Police College.
The delayed league start would mean teams have to play catch up, with action coming thick and fast, with midweek being utilized.