The BTC Premiership began the third and final stretches last weekend. With only nine games remaining, absorbing battles for the league honours, top eight spots and the relegation dog fights, are in full swing, writes Mmegi Sport’s Correspondent, KABELO BORANABI
At the top
The defending champions, Township Rollers are on the verge of winning their fourth consecutive league honours, which will stretch their title haul to 16.
Popa are four points ahead of Jwaneng Galaxy while third-placed, Police XI are a distant eight points adrift. The Blues’ chances of clinching the title are boosted by the inconsistency in the chasing pack.
At one point, fourth-placed Orapa United and Sharps Shooting Stars who are sixth appeared well suited to push pops all the way, but have since faded away.
Although mathematically, the Ostriches are still in it, Galaxy are Rollers’ legitimate rival for the title. The team is on a 10-game unbeaten run stretching from November last year. Popa would need eight wins from the remaining nine games to clinch the title.
Surviving the chop
The interesting battle is at the bottom of the log where three teams will go down at the end of the season. Up to six teams still face the gloom prospect of relegation. Rooted at the bottom are Sankoyo Bush Bucks, with just 13 points. Black Forest are two points ahead while Mochudi Centre Chiefs are four points clear of the bottom Maun based side.
By recent form, all the three teams are headed for the chop but Prisons Xi, Security Systems and BR Highlanders are not safe. The difference between 10th placed Notwane and Ngurungu is just 11 points, which makes for an interesting battle for
The mid-table battle
Despite toying around the relegation positions, 13th placed Prisons XI can still break into the top eight by the end of the season. The Warderers are 10 points behind eighth-placed Miscellaneous. Tse Nala would face competition from Notwane and Gaborone United for the spot. The two Gaborone giants are three points and a point behind Miscellaneous.
Coach of the season
Zambian coach, Mike Sithole has done a marvelous job with Police XI. The Jungle Kings survived the chop by just a whisker last season. Sithole was appointed at the start of the season and has since turned their fortunes around.
The team is just eight points behind log leaders, Rollers. Galaxy’s Miguel da Costa is also up for contention. The youthful Portuguese tactician is currently enjoying the longest unbeaten run by any team this season.
In his first season, he has managed to keep the Jwaneng based side as contenders. Rollers’ Rodolfo Zapata could be favoured if his side clinches the title, but he has only been in charge for a few games. However like da Costa, he is unbeaten in the league.