Madinda skating on thin ice in Bots
By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone – Former Zimbabwe national team winger, Madinda Ndlovu’s future at Botswana’s BTC Premiership side, Orapa United is hanging by a thread. Ndlovu, who is the most successful coach in the Botswana Premiership, with three league titles and a Top 8 title to his name, finds himself in unfamiliar territory.
The diminutive Ndlovu faces rare criticism after his side suffered shock losses in the title race, leaving Orapa sixth with 11 points from eight games.
The Ostriches’ struggles were recently emphasized after the team fell to consecutive losses at what used to be their dreaded fortress, the Itekeng Stadium.
In two consecutive seasons, Orapa only lost at home once, making them the team with the best home record in the 16-team league.
But that proud record is in tatters after modest sides, Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Miscellaneous showed scant respect to hand Orapa consecutive losses.
Orapa has lost three games in the early stages of the season, and are already a distant 13 points off the pace.
They have not been convincing amid news of a dressing room mutiny.
While Ndlovu blames injuries to key players and the demanding schedule, reports are that some players are not happy with his selection.
They allege favouritism and it is said senior players want “player power” to force the respected coach out.
“Bad results obviously bring a lot of confusion. We know people are not happy and we are obviously not happy as well. We are playing well but we lose.
“The morale has gone down; the belief has also taken a knock but we know we must get ourselves back in contention and frankly we are not that far off. It’s only that these type of losses are new to us. I am confident with one, two wins we will bounce back,” Ndlovu’s assistant, Zacharia Muzadzi said.
Ndlovu was not available for comment.
After leading Orapa to a first Mascom Top 8 title in 2015, all appeared headed in the direction for Ndlovu.
But the 2016 season saw him lose the Top 8 title before he finished third in the league as his side fell away in the race.
This season has been marked as a make-or-break for Ndlovu, with the diamond miners among the favourites for the title. But the side capitulated early on, placing ernormous pressure on Ndlovu, who is likely to face clear- the-air talks over the international break.
Meanwhile, Township Rollers have taken full advantage of their rivals’ lethargy to pull eight points clear at the top.
Rollers have maximum points from their opening eight matches, forcing pundits to predict that the season might well be over.
However, Security Systems showed that Rollers are not invincible, at least until the 92nd minute on Sunday, as they clung to a 2-2 draw.
But veteran striker, Jerome Ramatlhakwana returned with the proverbial sucker punch to hand the defending champions a 3-2 win, and in the process, preserve their 100 percent start.
Fading giants, Mochudi Centre Chiefs remained firmly in the relegation zone, clocking a fifth match without a win. Chiefs players had threatened to boycott their encounter against TAFIC on Saturday over unpaid salaries, while there is still the unresolved Bongani Mafu debt, which is around P200,000.