An unlikely story is brewing in the Debswana First Division South.
With nine games left in the season, Masitaoka FC find themselves top of the league and on the verge of history.
Searching for a first-ever promotion to the Premier League, the Molepolole-based minnows continued their fine form at the weekend with a 3-0 thrashing of Mochudi Rovers.
That result, combined with Mogoditshane Fighter’s shock 2-1 loss to Red Sparks, was enough for ‘Maja Tlhaga’ to open up a two-point gap at the summit.
In a league where goals have been notoriously hard to come by – with 18 in 13 matches Fighters are the division’s top scorers – much of Masitaoka’s success is down to their miserly defence.
Having conceded just seven goals so far this season, Nelson Olebile’s troops boast the league’s best defensive record.
This week they travel to Mmopane to face fifth-placed Holy Ghost, who are led by seasoned gaffer and former national team coach, Major David Bright.
The church-backed side appeared to be mounting a title bid of their own at the start of the season but have since faded away. Now ten points adrift of Masitaoka, unless Bright can work a miracle, they look set for another season in the second tier.
Giving his views on the state of the league, local pundit Monty Gagomokwa was full of praise for the leaders but stressed there was still much to play for.
“I still think the league is open, anything can happen but Masitaoka have been impressive without a doubt. They managed to snatch a few talented players in the market whom I believe are bound to carry the team forward.”
Gagomokwa predicts the league is set for a four-horse race, stressing that both Union Flamengo Santos and Mochudi Centre Chiefs could still push for promotion.
Currently seven points behind Masitaoka, Gagomokwa feels both Santos and Chiefs have the firepower to bridge the gap.
“Santos plays with a pool of youngsters who have energy to run at their opponents. However, experience will be needed at some point if they are to go through!”
Turning his attention to Chiefs, the pundit said the four-time BPL champions could still pull-off an automatic return to the elite league.
“I believe they can still salvage something out of this competitive First Division league season as they are now being guided by Elias Chimemba who I believe is capable of defying the odds.”
However, he highlighted the loss of influential captain Jomo Moatlhaping, who signed for Police XI this month, as a ‘terrible setback’ for Magosi.
“He was the one who led those boys. His departure is going to affect them greatly!”
Similarly, he warned that Fighters’ decision to part ways with coach Otlaadisa Mohambi could backfire.
“I have watched Mogoditshane Fighters for the past four seasons. They are a team that start the campaign well and lose form along the way. Now they have brought in a new coach Thaloba Nthaga who has an impressive record of promoting teams. However, the question remains as to whether it was a good move because Mohambi had a fantastic first round of the season.”
(All kick-off times 1600hrs, Saturday 1 January)
Holy Ghost v Masitaoka FC
Mochudi Centre Chiefs v Red Sparks
Mochudi Rovers v Ncojane Young Stars
Jwaneng Fighters v Matebejana FC
FC Santos v Broadhurst United
Mogoditshane Fighters v Black Forest