It is probably too early to think of new Premier League entrants, Black Forest emulating English side, Leicester City, but the astonishing story of what transpired in the English Premier League last season keeps cropping up in the minds of any football fanatic.
It was a story that left the entire world shocked and inspired at the same time. Locally, another exciting story was that of ECCO City Greens 10 years ago when they won the Botswana Premier League (BPL) title in their second season in the top-flight football.
They became the first side to win the Premier League title from the other side of Dibete. Ten years later, an unfancied Black Forest known to its staunch supporters as Magoleng from the village of Mmankgodi has stormed the Premier League. Seven matches into their maiden Premier League season, Black Forest might not be ECCO or Leicester City but are definitely making a mark in the league.
Magoleng are currently the team of the moment, in position three on the log with 13 points, three behind log leaders, Orapa United but with a game in hand. Of all the Premier League sides, only Black Forest and Orapa United have not lost a single match.
The fairytale kicked off against the defending champions, Township Rollers under the floodlights at the National Stadium. At the time when the fixtures were made public, it appeared like the new comers had been handed a tough start to the season.
They had to start against defending league champions before taking on Gaborone United (GU). The next fixture was against one of the best-assembled sides in the league, Gilport Lions before they hosted Mascom Top 8 champions, Orapa United. They made their intentions known when they held Rollers 2-2 in a game that they should have won.
They also held GU to a 0-0 draw but Gilport Lions could not escape as Magoleng registered their first Premier League win. Police XI managed to escape with a point but Nico United and BDF XI’s scalps were claimed.
Following a good season in the lower division, Black Forest took a gamble and surprisingly fired coach, Murphy Maseko who led them to their first ever promotion to the elite league.
Rapelang ‘Raizer’ Tsatsilebe was announced as the new coach. As a former great player himself, Tsatsilebe has immediately turned Magoleng into an exciting side.
He has managed to bring the best out his players within a short period of time. Unlike other financially superior sides in the league, Black Forest settled for talented but unknown players when they bolstered their squad at the start of the season.
Their leading goal scorer, Lynoth Chikuhwa, registered from Zimbabwean side, Tsholotso FC has settled in quickly and keeps scoring crucial goals. He is currently second on the leading goal scorers’ chart with five goals, just one behind Terrence Mandaza. Together with Thatayaone Kgamanyane, they have been nuisance to the opponents’ defences.
Kgamanyane is presently also among the leading goal scorers with four goals.
It makes even our job as the technical team easier.” The former GU player also said they had good preparations in the pre-season and it is one the contributing factors to their current form. The intention is to collect as many points as possible in the first round. Back in the village, the team is pride of the community according to the club spokesperson, Koketso Mmolotsi.
The community has stood together and will do everything in its power to give the team the support it needs. At a time when even the BPL has raised concern over low turnout at the matches, Magoleng have outdone themselves in that regard and boast one of the most passionate supporters in the league presently.
This is all to due to the hard work and strategy by the youthful management of the team. “When we were in the lower division last season, we decided as the management that we should create excitement in the village and try and point it out to the youth in the village that this team needs their support.
People started coming to the matches and we usually filled our ground to near full capacity last season,” he said. The excitement and continued rise in support grew much bigger when they gained promotion to the Premier League. “As we speak now, we have opened supporters branches in villages like Manyana, Thamaga and Kumakwane and I can tell you that indeed this team has created excitement in the area,” he added.
He said as the management, their key objective is to give the technical team everything they want at the right time hence the positive results. Like every new team in the league, their initial target was to work hard and try and survive. The target is not about to change despite the current form the team finds itself in.
“Our target is still the same and we are taking each game as it comes. We cannot think about winning the league because that is not our target,” Mmolotsi said.
Magoleng came at a time when the image of the league had been tarnished because of controversies and endless boardroom wrangles last season. Magoleng’s exploits and passion shown by their supporters could be what the league needed to restore trust and passion that has characterised the local league in the past few seasons.