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Pressure mounts on Zapata

KABELO BORANABI
Zapata PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Township Rollers coach, Rodolfo Zapata is a man under fire, just five months after he was thrust into the hot seat. He was appointed at Rollers on the back of the team’s successful season.

At the time, they reached the CAF Champions League group stages while winning a domestic double under Nikola Kavazovic.

The Argentine arrived at the club with less fanfare as the Popa faithful doubted his capabilities following two and half years at Gaborone United (GU) without a trophy.

The 53-year-old was assigned to lead the team until the end of the season with his contract expiring on May 30.

With four league games left to the end of the season, Zapata’s bubble burst after he played to a one all draw away to 15th placed Sankoyo Bush Bucks over the weekend. After the game, there were reports that he was in line for a return to GU and was already preparing for life after Popa. He is accused of recruiting the team’s best players for his next destination.

Wednesday’s evening drab draw against GU fuelled further speculation about his future.

He needed security details to escort him from the stadium, as fans were baying for his blood.  The result leaves Popa in second position, a point behind on-form Jwaneng Galaxy.

Meanwhile, the club has however downplayed the fans’ actions at the Lobatse Sports Complex.

“It was just a matter of failing to win the game. The coach’s security was never under threat. Football is a sport of emotions and for a team such as Rollers, the fans expect us to win every game, they were just frustrated not to win,” Rollers public relations officer, Bafana Pheto said.

“But that’s the pressure that

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comes with the job. We need someone to be calm and be able to do the job.”

He further explained that there have been no talks regarding a new deal for Zapata, as his contract would be renewed at the end of the season.

“We will sit down with him and analyse the season together. Until then we are not ready to start negotiating a new contract. We are also not aware that he could be leaving. If that is indeed the truth, I believe he would have communicated with us. It would be a pity that he would be preparing for his next move while still contracted to us,” he said. 

Zapata was tasked with winning the Mascom Top 8 and to defend the league title. Zapata lost the cup title after he was knocked out in the semifinals at the hands of GU.

However, he vehemently denied any links with a return to GU, but admitted there were “the usual player-coach” disputes. 

“That is a joke (going back to GU). Of course in any team around the 11 players who start would be happy and seven who sit on the bench will be disappointed. That happens all over the world, so my job is to manage them and I am working on that,” Zapata told journalist after the game. Tomorrow, Zapata’s troops take on a confident Extension Gunners side in the Orange FA Cup round of 16 clashes at the Lobatse Sports Complex.



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