Down but not out…yet!

Baitshepi Sekgweng
FIGHTING HARD: Gunners won't go down without a fight

Chico vows to get Gunners dancing again

As the Easter Holidays came and went in a blur of drunken merriment, Extension Gunners’ hopes of a miraculous resurrection faded further with a 2-1 loss to Masitaoka.

It extended Guna Guna’s winless run to an incredible 20 games.

Rooted to the bottom of the table, 11 points from safety with just seven matches left to play, survival looks impossible for the Lobatse side. They need a saviour…enter Daniel ‘Chico Dance’ Nare.

Five years after he left, the wily tactician has returned on an unlikely mission to try and save his boyhood club; truly walking on water looks a more likely prospect than keeping Gunners in the Premier League!

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Now in his third stint with Mapantsula, Nare’s arrival at the start of April represented quite the baptism of fire for the experienced coach.

His opening games in the Gunners’ hot seat saw him take on first Gaborone United and then Jwaneng Galaxy within the space of three days.

Although they acquitted themselves well, losing 3-1 to GU and then 2-1 to league leader’s Galaxy, it’s points not performances that ‘Ezi Myama’ desperately need.

It made the weekend loss all the more disappointing as Nare and his players went into the fixture with real belief that they could get something from the game. The loss was further compounded by Prisons XI springing a 3-2 surprise over Township Rollers, a result which increased the gap between Gunners and safety to 11 points.

Despite this, an upbeat Nare, whose side last tasted victory in the league back on 12 November, when a 1-0 win over Holy Ghost came the week after a 2-0 success against Eleven Angels (Gunners’ only two victories of the season, achieved after Match Week 3!), is adamant the great escape is still on.

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Down but not out...yet!
STOP THE ROT: Chico returns

“The struggle continues and I’m very confident. I will say Gunners relegate on the last day not now. There are still games to play and a lot to play for. This is a process and if we didn’t believe in the process we would have not taken this job,” was Nare’s typically defiant message.

Nare, who began the season with Morupule Wanderers but lost his job at the end of November after a poor run of results, is the fourth coach to take the reigns at Gunners this campaign.

He is seeking to succeed where the likes of Thabo Motang, Philimon Makhwengwe and Phenyo Mongala could not.

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“Gunners is not rock bottom because of being poor when compared to teams above us on paper in terms of preparation, players and bench. We just have to do things right, not from my point of view but administratively, from office to me, me to players and players to the supporters,” he told Voice Sport.

In the past, Gunners on field struggles have stemmed from a lack of financial firepower, which has seen the club in trouble for failing to pay players, coaches and service providers.

“We need to have that umbilical cord that connects us and showcase that this is a heavy job. It is not a one man job but our problem. If we are collective in our efforts we will surely save Gunners,” insisted Nare, his voice firm with steely belief.

On paper, Gunners’ remaining fixtures make for daunting reading: they travel to face Nico, Morupule, Mogoditshane Fighters, BDF XI and Orapa while their remaining home games will see them host Rollers and Police XI. Although points have been hard to come by, they have been competitive in almost all their outings, a 4-0 trouncing by GU representing their heaviest defeat.

Urging the team’s diehard supporters to keep the faith, Nare concluded, “A luta continua [The struggle continues], we are working hard on improving and we are seeing problems in every game. We must be humbled by learning from this mistakes and sharpen to burrow so that tomorrow can give sun rays to the next week!”

Three years ago, on 29 February 2020, a 3-1 victory over Security Systems lifted Gunners out of the relegation zone on goal difference with ten games remaining. Covid then hit, and the football season was brought to a premature end, allowing the Peleng giant’s to survive by the skin of their teeth.

A pandemic can’t save Gunners this time…however, Nare just might. The messiah has arrived, but he has his work cut out for him!

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