Mmegi Online :: Can Gunners vie for top honours this season?
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Last Updated
Tuesday 11 December 2018, 14:21 pm.
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Can Gunners vie for top honours this season?

The last time Extension Gunners won the national league title was in 1994, when they were still backed by Lobatse Cash Stores (LCS). At the time, Mapantsula were unstoppable and fielded the cream of Botswana's football. This attracted thousands of supporters to their games.
By Staff Writer Tue 11 Dec 2018, 16:47 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Can Gunners vie for top honours this season?








The likes of Itumeleng Duiker, Joshua 'Jojo' Mogotsi, Francis Chisenga, Morris 'Pro' Mauco, Phillemon Mulubwa, Solomon Moipolai and Naphtally 'Scara' Kebalepile were some of the players who made the strong line-up at Gunners.

The side was coached by Zambian Samuel 'Zoom' Ndlovu, who got the best out of the players. In return, the Peleng Glamour Boys swept every silverware available in the country and went to make their mark in continental competitions. At the time, Gunners had a good management committee, which kept the players happy.

But since 1997, the club has been on a decline, dodging the axe on the last day of the campaign on a number of occasions. This was attributed to lack of funds and a weak committee. Things improved during the 2007-2008 season when Gunners under the tutelage of charismatic coach, Daniel 'Chicco' Nare finished seventh in the league despite the challenges they faced. In the past season, Mapantsula once again finished seventh and according to pundits, if there were no financial problems, they could have done better.

The crisis at times saw players revolting and staying away from crucial games. At some stage, Nare had to plead with the players to play for him if not for anything else. And they put up a splendid performance. Gunners did not even have the budget to beef the squad despite losing the likes of captain Tshepo 'Talk-Talk' Motlhabankwe who headed to Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

At the start of the current season, the gods seemed to smile on the Lobatse giants when they clinched sponsorship deals from O3, Pule Funeral Services and Kims Auto worth P600,000. Though they started the league season on a low after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Township Rollers, Mapantsula bounced back strongly to register victories over BDF XI and Boteti Young Fighters and a draw away to newly promoted Motlakase. At the moment, Gunners are placed fourth with seven points, two behind leaders Rollers.

The good thing is that Mapantsula are scoring goals having netted six times. The arrival of former Rollers' marksman Bernard 'Marcopolo' Semakwezi seems to have been a blessing as he has scored four of the six goals.

For the first time in many years, Gunners managed to compete strongly in the transfer market and bought quality players. Semakwezi, Monageng Thaele, Boniface Makolo and Botshelo Mogotsi have

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all been brought in and have added depth. When they play, Mapantsula looks good and though there are still doubts about the defence.

The question is, can Gunners challenge for top honours this season? Some people have doubts saying that Mapantsula still lack the tactical acumen and hunger to compete against the likes of Chiefs, Gaborone United, ECCO City Greens, BDF XI and Rollers. But Gunners' insiders believe that everything is in place and they will go for the top honours this season.

Gunners' communications officer, Kitso Dlamini, said that after all the hard work they have put in the last four years, he believes that Mapantsula are ready to roll. He pointed out that in the past three years, they have been re-building and the players have now matured.

Dlamini dismissed people who said that Nare is not the right man to lead Mapantsula. "People are entitled to their opinions but we believe that Chicco is the right man for the job. Where we feel that he falls short, then we'll call him and discuss with him," he said.

He stated that they have secured an office, which will soon be operational. He said this will make communication between his committee and supporters much simpler. "Of late we have been in contact with our supporters something which we believe will take the club somewhere," he explained.

Former Gunners' captain, Itumeleng Duiker told, Mmegi Sport that looking at the club's set-up this season, there is a possibility that the Peleng Glamour Boys will improve on their performance of the last two seasons.

He said companies which have come on board have helped a lot considering that Gunners have been experiencing financial problems. "This is proved by the players they have signed. I think they would add value to the team because they've not been doing badly."

As for winning the league, I doubt if Gunners have the pedigree to win it because it will need a lot of things to achieve that. First, Gunners must have sound administration because the current one is full of people who are still learning in the game. Second, with due respect to Chicco, he does not have the experience to win the league with Gunners.

We need a father figure at Gunners who can guide the youngsters in the squad," said Duiker.

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