Sponsorless but spectacular, Botswana Premier League returns
After an ugly, uncertain wait, the beautiful game finally returns in full force this Saturday as another season of the Botswana Premier League (BPL) kicks-off.
Following a drawn out pre-season, as the start of the league was delayed due to a number of issues, chief amongst them the BPL’s failure to find a sponsor for the second year running, teams go into the new campaign hungry to put all their practice to good use.
With all 16 top flight clubs successfully completing their licensing requirements, off-field problems are seemingly confined to the BPL, which has struggled to find a backer for the league post Covid-19.
Last year, ABSA bank came to their aid during the last leg of the 2022/2023 league, forking out P1.7 million as a financial partner rather than a league sponsor.
BPL mouthpiece, Prince Tshoswane, informed the Voice Sport that his CEO Senzo Mbatha, who was hired last year with the goal of bringing change to the local premier league and making it commercial, does not want to speak to the media at the present.
“The CEO says he can’t answer your questions regarding the league sponsorship. He says communication will be done in due course when everything is ready,” stated Tshoswane, in response to a questionnaire Voice Sport sent Mbatha seeking an update on progress finding a sponsor.
Putting local football’s long-standing economic struggles aside, the on-field action in the opening week promises rich excitement.
Fresh from a famous CAF Champions League win over Orlando Pirates at the weekend which saw them progress to the group stages for the second time in three years, Jwaneng Galaxy begin the defence of their title away at Holy Ghost on Sunday.
Storming to the championship by eight points, losing just two games all season, Morena Ramoreboli’s boys once again look the team to beat.
They start against a Ghost team that looked dead and buried last season, only for the Holy Boys to go on an unlikely run that saw them finish six points above Prisons XI to avoid relegation with ease.
The man who masterminded Ghost’s remarkable resurrection, Phillimon Makwengwe, now finds himself in the Tafic hot-seat, as the Reds return to the elite division after two seasons in limbo.
Matjimenyenga kick-start with a baptism of fire in the north, hosting Orapa United at the Obed Chilume Stadium on Saturday.
The Ostriches will be looking to build on last season’s third-place finish as they go hunting a first-ever BPL crown.
Aside from the diamond duo, the capital city’s blue and red giants, Township Rollers and Gaborone United are both hungry for gold and harbor realistic title aspirations of their own.
First up for Popa, who last lifted the league trophy in 2019, is a tricky test against unpredictable Masitaoka at the National Stadium.
After being spanked 3-0 by SuperSport United to be sent tumbling out of Africa last Friday, GU’s focus is now firmly on regaining their ‘Best in Botswana’ tagline.
They travel to Selibe Phikwe for a tough encounter with Nico United, who are no pushovers in front of their passionate home crowd.
The money may be in short supply, but a wealth of thrills and spills surely awaits…
WEEK ONE FIXTURES
Masitaka vs Township Rollers…..National Stadium
Security Systems vs Matebele…..VTM Arena
Nico United vs Gaborone United….Sam Sono Stadium
Tafic vs Orapa United……..Obed Itani Chilume Stadium
BDF XI vs VTM………Lobatse Sports Complex
Holy Ghost vs Jwaneng Galaxy……VTM Arena
Police XI vs Sua Flamingoes…..Lobatse Sports Complex
Morupule Wanderers vs Eleven Angels……Palapye Stadium
(All games start at 1600hrs)