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Promotion Candidates Remain Positive

KOKETSO KGOBOGE
Nico United have compared declaring the season null and avoid to throwing them under a truck PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
PALAPYE: Debswana First Division North league promotion chasers, Sua Flamingoes and Nico United are optimistic sanity would prevail amidst the coronavirus turmoil with growing speculations of a season likely to be rendered null and void.

The northern national league was brought to a halt at the commencement of a national mandatory lockdown, and at the time there were four games left to the end of the season.

The two teams were on a spirited neck-to-neck battle that saw them tied on 37 points after 18 games played. Flamingoes are superior with two goals advantage to Selibe Phikwe’s Majombolo.

Since arrival in the second tier first division league in 2015, the Sowa Town outfit remained consistent fighters for promotion finishing within the top four bracket in the log table.

The financially struggling Majombolo was also on course to take the fascinating battle to the wire for a return to the elite league with the hope of attracting sponsorship once in top competitions.

It though appears the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic could dish out the worst for the two clubs this season, with a ‘null and void’ option hovering above their opportunity to gain their promotion desires.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) has been assessing the possibilities of the leagues returning after the government eased the lockdown and top leagues given a green light to restart, albeit with some precaution protocols in place.

According to the BFA secretary-general, Mfolo Mfolo the mother body’s health committee had dispatched a team to assess and prepare the “return to play football guidelines” that would be presented to the national executive committee and the latter would decide the way forward then after.

According to a close source, there are three options on the table. Option one is to complete the league when all health and logistics matters are in place.

Option two is to render the league null and void if the league fails to meet the health protocols. The last option would be to call off the league and log leaders crowned champions and automatically promote to the elite league.

The first option, however, appears a challenge for teams in the north that have to cover vast distances as far as Mahalapye-Maun, Maun-Selibe Phikwe, Sowa-Palapye to mention a few, to honour the fixtures.

It appears social distancing protocols would also be a

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challenge for the teams that have been perennially struggling with finances especially with issues of travel, which would require spacious buses to transport the squad and technical teams.

Some of the requirements would be to play under closed doors for control measures. It would require secure stadia that also come at a cost.

It appears that if all these and other health checks cannot be met the season might fall into the null and void option. Flamingoes admit null and void would be another egg in the face after near promotion misses in the past four seasons.

They had assembled a squad and technical team that showed resilience and were promising to deliver them to the Promised Land.

Team spokesperson Lazarus Mafa said they harboured serious intentions to represent of the northern part in the Premiership next season.

He pointed to their last match before the lockdown against Township Rollers in the Orange FA Cup when they lost 1-0 to a late minutes goal as their statement of intent.

“That game reflects our readiness for top-flight football. The current situation is devastating of course and we hope positivity would prevail. It would be unfortunate for us if it turns otherwise, but we would have to accept the outcome and come back stronger next season,” Mafa said.

His Majombolo counterpart Moloko Masoja said rendering the league null and void would be akin to throwing them under the truck. He said they invested everything they had in the current campaign.

“We stretched our resources to ensure that if anything the league goes to the wire. We intended to promote automatically. We understand the situation but I don’t think we would be able to come back if our efforts are thrown out the window,” the Majombolo spokesperson said.

“We made inroads with some companies here, our support was growing, the town leadership was taking note of our efforts and they contributed. It gave us hope that once we reach the Premiership then our fortunes would change, but we will see how everything pans out and we would have to accept.”



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