PALAPYE: The once mighty ECCO City Greens, now Francistown City Greens is facing imminent collapse in the face of financial challenges.
For now, the Francistown side appear destined to the lower rungs of football, as they struggle in the First Division North league.
It was unimaginable, just a decade ago that City Greens would be mentioned in the same line with Division One football.
But the reality is sinking in, as even Division One football would be considered an achievement, with the club’s future uncertain.
‘Mamoja Diski’ rose to prominence in 2003, while a relatively unknown First Division side. It was after they reached the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup and the World Group Independence Cup that local football took notice.
In the same season they gained promotion to the elite Mascom Premier League. Success followed in the top league at a time the side was enjoying the backing of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). The new kids on the block finished in the top eight bracket in their debut season with no alterations to the squad that propelled the club to Premier League promotion. In the next season they finished third.
In 2006-2007, a third season in the top flight the Francistowners clinched the league, becoming the first, and thus far, the only side from the north to win the domestic title.
But the ship started a plunge in 2012 after BMC stopped financing the club. That has not been reversed and nothing has ever been the same since.
They moved from fifth position in 2012-2013 season to 11th the next one and the death knell sounded in the 2014-2015 season, as they succumbed to relegation.
The fall was so loud after they won only four games the entire season and bowed out after a 12-game winless streak. Financial constraints remained the monkey on Mamoja’s back and the club endured a torrid stay in the lower league. It has been two consecutive seasons that they escaped the chop by a whisker.
City Greens chairperson, Blessed Mahwa said his squad is talented but has been deprived by poor welfare owing to money troubles. He said as a result of their struggles, they lost head coach, Maggie Jensen recently.
Jensen dumped the struggling side after five games, overwhelmed by a string of poor performances caused by matters beyond his control.
Good Samaritans who aided the team in the past few years have pulled out while supporters have deserted due to poor results and gate takings are meagre.
Recently the club was short of players, after reports that they were involved in the constituency leagues. “They reported back to training beginning of last week,” Mahwa said.
To add salt to injury, their caretaker coach was slapped with a red card last weekend in a draw against Motlakase Power Dynamos.
Mahwa said there is no money and the club is at a crossroads. “We are trying to cling onto our First Division status but it is difficult without funds.
We are knocking on doors looking for an investor who could take over and run the team. All we want is to support our team and relive the glory days.”
This season, it appears City Greens would need manna to fall from heaven to survive. Mamoja are sitting at the foot of the table with five points from a possible 27. After the nine games thus far they won once, drew twice and lost six matches. This weekend they would look to redeem themselves when they make the short visit to fellow strugglers, Tonota FC. ‘Sephondo se a debola’ as the Tonota side is affectionately called, is a point and a place above Mamoja.
In other First Division matches this weekend, log leaders Sua Flamingoes, who are firing on all cylinders, would look to extend their lead when they host Calendar Stars. Motlakase are home to Nico United, Sankoyo Bush Bucks will be in Francistown for a meeting with Great North Tigers.
Green Lovers are up against league chasers, Eleven Angels and Maun Terrors welcome Santa Green in Maun.