Mmegi Online :: A giant sleeps
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Last Updated
Monday 20 May 2019, 16:33 pm.
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A giant sleeps

A decade ago, Mochudi Centre Chiefs were a muscular, domineering presence in the Premier League. Those who dared, were ruthlessly dealt with, as Chiefs’ royal presence reverberated across all four corners of the country. But as days grew dark, friends became few on and off the terraces, and last week Saturday, the once proud royalty thudded to the ground, and took its last Premier League breath, writes Mmegi Sport Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE
By Mqondisi Dube Fri 10 May 2019, 15:02 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: A giant sleeps








Three seasons ago, it became apparent, the giant was beginning to slow down. The deadly punches had lost ferocity, and the muscles were slowly turning into wrinkles.

But out of fear, the giant was praised, and reminded of its invincibility, not long ago, when it crushed all its opponents on its way to a historic crowning moment.

Mochudi Centre Chiefs were ruthless on their way to a first ever-Premier League title in 2008. That proud, unbeaten run remains intact and will form part of a rich obituary when history is told.

The sight of galloping black and white warriors across stadia all over the country was a sight to behold.

There was the effervescent Pontsho Moloi, his dazzling brother, Dirang Moloi, the irrepressible Oteng ‘OT’ Moalosi and the industry of the underrated Elijah Montsho.

Who will forget the bustling Onalethata Tshekiso, ball wizard, Sekhana ‘Nandos’ Koko, the colourful Noah Maposa and the deadly duo of Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi and Jerome Ramatlhakwana, amongst a star of royals.

At the wheel was Ernest Molome, the man credited with driving Chiefs, from a mid table team to a fierce unit. The late Clifford Mogomotsi’s passion was undoubted, as Magosi irritatingly stood battle-ready, right in the face of foes, including known rivals, Township Rollers.

Other than Gaborone United or GU (2009), there is no other side that has managed to win the league title except Rollers and Chiefs.

After their 2008 triumph, three more league titles followed to cement Chiefs’ position as one of the best sides in the last decade. Into the fore came businessman, Saeyed Jamali, to shore up an already impressive side. But when internecine fights crept into the club, there were signs the giant was starting to wilt.

In 2016, Jamali departed, and while there were no immediate signs of impending danger, the giant was left severely vulnerable.

Squabbling became the appetiser, the main menu and dessert at the Kgatleng giants, as worrying signals flashed but those around, were complicit in ignoring the evident pitfalls.

The first death was postponed in 2017, as, despite a chaotic season, Zimbabwean gaffer, Bongani Mafu managed to steer Chiefs to a top eight finish. That run peppered over apparent cracks, and while the full-blown wars persisted, fans were hopeful of a full recovery. But it was a precursor to cataclysmic failure.

Punches continued to rain on the giant, as even minnows took unrestrained aim.

It became a feast for all,

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and the fear factor deserted the giant. It became an ugly sight as the punch-drunk giant staggered from one defeat to another. After the miraculous top eight finish, the cracks were exposed, and Chiefs have been a regular and prominent feature in the relegation scrap. Last season, another fall was averted as Chiefs avoided relegation, but now the giant was visibly frail, and ailing.

Despite SOS calls, few responded as Chiefs fans watched their giant waste away. There were other giants in a similar Intensive Care Unit (ICU) predicament, but they made miraculous recoveries. GU and Extension Gunners found themselves battling similar demons, but they managed to, just, steer away from troubled waters in the Premier League table.

At the start of the 2018/2019 season, Chiefs and GU were lying just metres apart in the ICU.

In fact GU’s situation appeared more precarious than Chiefs’ as they were docked points for failure to honour a FIFA ruling.

It effectively meant The Reds began the season on minus three points. But after the return of Nicholas Zakhem as an investor at GU, the giant from the Red side of Gaborone was quickly back on his feet, and even fought bravely in the Mascom Top 8 cup, reaching the final.

The other giant, Gunners has appeared shabby, but for now, remains safe. Last week Saturday, Chiefs were handed a perfect opportunity to script their own resurrection with a tie against fellow strugglers, Sankoyo Bush Bucks.

But it was the Maun side that sounded the death knell, with a 3-1 victory, and the giant staggered to the canvas.

Chiefs fans have gathered around their giant, hoping for the same Lazarus moment, which resurrected rivals, Township Rollers and GU in 2004. The two giants had also succumbed and went down to the First Division only to return in 2004.

The 3-1 defeat on Saturday sparked widespread mourning, but some remarked, “Chiefs is now in a better place.” Their fans hope life in the First Division will afford them a quieter period of self-cleansing and inspection.

What made Chiefs’ Premier League demise the all more painful for its fans, was that while their team’s top flight journey had taken a cruel end, their traditional rivals, Rollers were enjoying their place in the sun.

Rollers wrapped a fourth consecutive league title on Tuesday, extending their domestic record to 16league titles, while 14places below, the mood was sombre.

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