FRANCISTOWN: It is nearly two decades since TAFIC clinched the Coca Cola cup with a penalty shoot out win over cross-town rivals TASC at the National Stadium.
No matter how many years roll by, there is no doubt that the final match against TASC would forever be etched in every TAFIC fan’s mind forever.
In fact, the 2002 glorious moment would go down as the club’s greatest triumph over the last two decades. After their Coca-Cola Cup campaign, TAIFC suspended a number of their high profile players over indiscipline.
The likes of Abednico Thuthuka, the late Chrispen Nyamutambo Molebatsi and Patrick Maletise left soon after and the club’s fortunes have waned since then.
At the time of winning the cup, the team had the likes of Barcos Mosimanegape, the Letsholo brothers - Nkwebi and Mooketsi, Bakang Meno and Tamocha Bedi.
Former TAFIC captain, Thuthuka played an integral part in the victory.
“We won because we were a close-knit unit of players. We understood each other’s weaknesses both on and off the pitch. We were resilient in all departments on the pitch. We also had a very good technical team and management, which understood football very well,” he said.
When the tournament started Guston Mutombo was in charge but left, which saw his assistant, Ntime Ntime complete the victorious journey.
Leviet Ntwaagae was the manager at TAFIC then.
“We wanted the cup badly because we knew that winning it would aid the club financially. In fact, after winning the Coca Cola cup the money was used to pay us for some months. We were not earning enough at the time. We were probably earning P500 per month,” Ntwaagae said. Thuthuka remembers the decisive moment, which handed Matjimenyenga the trophy.
“The most significant thing that I remember about the final is Mareko Pabalelo missing the decisive penalty for TASC.
“They accused him of missing the penalty because he was perceived to be a staunch TAFIC supporter. To me he did not miss the penalty deliberately. It was a very sad moment, but it is the nature of the game.”
Former TAFIC midfielder, Meno said the team was desperate to win the cup.
“We were under pressure when our cross town rivals TASC won the cup in 2001. From there we told ourselves that we would have to win silverware to emulate our rivals. We started working hard towards that goal.
While TAFIC has hit turbulence since then, both Meno and Thuthuka believe glory days can be reignited but under certain conditions.
“Football has now become a big business. The club should change the way it does things and privatise. Without a proper privatisation model the club will keep alternating between the First Division and the Premier League. With privatisation, I am almost certain that the club will be able to compete.
TAFIC as a brand can be turned into a viable business just like clubs such as Township Rollers and Gaborone United (GU).”
Meno concurs that the route back to the hey days is through privatisation.
“Back in the days there was no money. We were playing for passion. These days’ players lack passion. It was more about showcasing our talent than money. These days’ players complain more about money, but they are justified to some extent. The hype around the game in the city has also gone down, which has affected the club badly,” Meno said.