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Rollers, Kavazovic’s search for silky stretch in new romance

KABELO BORANABI
In your loving arms again: Kavazovic and Rollers have kissed and made up PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Serbian coach, Nikola Kavazovic has rejoined former league champions, Township Rollers just over two years after his departure.

Kavazovic left Popa on October 16, 2018 for Kenyan club, AFC Leopards. The tactician’s premature departure pierced through the hearts of Popa faithful like a sword as, at the time he had just guided the team to a domestic league and Top 8 double while reaching the group stages of the CAF Champions League, a feat that no other local club has achieved.

He was praised for introducing an attractive style of football at Popa and to rub salt into the wound, the coach had just committed to two more years at the club before his unexpected departure.

Since he left the Royal Aria complex, it has not been smooth sailing for the outspoken tactician. Kavazovic quit Leopards just a few weeks after the club announced his appointment. He had not taken to the technical bench yet as South African side, Free State Stars poached him.

He arrived at Bethlehem in the Free State, with the team sitting in a relegation position with a handful of games to play.

Kavazovic could not save the team from the chop, falling out after the promotion playoffs.

He quit the club after a reported fall out with then club chairperson, Mike Mokoena, at the end of the 2018-2019 season.

The well-travelled Serbian coach spent a few months on the sidelines without a club before he was brought back to the capital, this time in the red of Rollers’ rivals Gaborone United. Kavazovic took over from Madinda Ndlovu who fell ill in September 2019.  However, Kavazovic had a strained relationship with the club’s supporters. The camel’s back broke during a Mascom Top 8 encounter defeat at the hands of Jwaneng Galaxy as supporters bayed for his blood and the police had to escort him from the stadium.

Some of the club’s management was implicated in the fracas and Kavazovic cut his stay short with the

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Reds. Galaxy recruited him earlier this year and despite guiding the team to their maiden league championship, he quit in July.

For Rollers, things also took a turn down south. Since the departure of Kavazovic, Rollers has appointed Rodolfo Zapata and Frank Nuttall who had lower success rates compared to the Serbian.

The team was knocked out in the preliminary stages of the CAF Champions League by Lesotho outfit, Bantu FC. They also lost in the finals of the FA Cup and Top 8 while missing out on a spot in the club continent competitions in almost a decade after losing out the league title to Galaxy.

Now, the silver-haired coach is headed down Jamali Road for his second tenure at the club hoping to turnaround both personal and club fortunes. The club also admitted that they want to reach the same heights as in the coach’s first stint.

“While we received different applications for the post, we chose Kavazovic because of his success at the club. He led Rollers to the Premier League and Mascom Top 8 double on 2017-2018 season and also guided the team to the group stage of the CAF Champions League,” part of a statement from the club reads.

As it looks to be a pair made in heaven but like in the historic Silk Road, the back love has to overcome numerous hurdles as the two aim for lofty heights they are renowned for.

Silk Road was a significant trade route, which connected the East and West but was fraught with dangers, with poisonous snakes, forbidding mountains and brutal winds.

However, amid the dangers, there was a good stretch, the Gansu Corridor, a fertile strip at the basement of the mountains. Rollers and Kavazovic would look to stay more on the Gansu Corridor as they seek the silky stretch on Silk Road.



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