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Zakhem and the battle for the soul of GU

Publishing Date : 07 August, 2018

Author : MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE


The wheeling and dealings that turned the once mighty Gaborone United Sporting Club from a position of football power and professionalism to the shadows of regress and relegation could have never been predicted.  STAFF WRITER, MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE sees the club’s kingpins shifting sands to control the club’s once bold investor, Nicholas Zakhem, who unfortunately never saw his grip diminishing.   


Gaborone United was once the envy of other premier league teams. But nobody saw the popularity of the club fading away as internal blood wars gradually ate away the soul of Moyagoleele. In the permitting impressive years of 2010 and 2011, GU had opened an insurmountable gap between itself and other elite clubs in as far as football commercialisation is concerned.


 A committee chaired by the brains of Dr Nkomazana was to later study and comprehend strategies and all modalities that were to enable GU house to stand forever. Among others, the GU constitution was amended and an entity called Soccer Dynamics was instituted as a vehicle driving the commercial wing of the team.


Through it, business guru, Nicholas Zakhem was the majority shareholder with 51 percent while the remaining 49 percent was given to the club’s society, Gaborone United. All was set and done as GU was an instant marvel both in the boardroom and on the field of play.
This is the reason the memory of the team’s 2010 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League performance is still alive and vivid to those who love the club with unbridled passion.


No any other GU’s die hard follower will forget the club’s historic battle against South Africa’s power house Orlando Pirates. The club had also brought in the auspicious mettle of one Tymon Katholo, as the President to bolster a team well versed with football administration.
But eight years from now, GU’s cross town rivals Township Rollers have knocked The Reds off their perch. GU is instead, a picture of exasperation that is walking through storms of debts and regrets.


While it is increasingly becoming difficult to put together the fall of The Reds, all football conspiracy theories point to a heavy fall out amongst GU’s file and rank kingpins. Rather, it is slightly common knowledge that in the winter of 2015, elections happened. They could not further tighten the team’s football ambition, but instead triggered the team’s fall from the dizzy highways.


Until now, nobody at the heart of Moyagoleele knows exactly what happened between the saviour Katholo and the messiah Zakhem — all information of the club point fingers of blame towards ballooning egos clash between the two men. Zakhem is a man whom many of his critics have always questioned his football exploits. But what is not in doubt is that he has transformed GU from a mediocre club to a championship material. He managed to pay the best players in the League and went on to win several championships.
 

Those close to him believe that he is a good schemer who knows how to maneuver the unpredictable football terrain such that most football administrators do not like crossing his path. There is rumour in the football circles that he has never lost a football matter especially those involving the fight for players.


On the other hand, Katholo is regarded as one of the shrewdest administrators in local football although of late he has seen his hands dipped in GU blood. His admirers credit him with honesty, principle and fairness. But this is a man who has investigated Zakhem while working as DCEC chief. As the team was rattled by alleged election rigging in 2015, Katholo later emerged as a lead character of a group that filed a case of defamation against Zakhem.


 It is stated on several platforms that the two men are two poles apart in the running of GU. Katholo stood for the position of chairmanship but lost to Okaile Rapula. He is now leading beleaguered GU as an ‘elder’ of the club. Despite his perceived strained relationship with Zakhem, mostly arising from the football politics, many still believe that he is a man who acts on facts. But others continue to question his integrity as an elder of the club.


It is further feared that this apparent attitude if not addressed will cost GU many silverware. Ironically, Katholo as an elder of GU is expected to come face to face with Zakhem to negotiate better terms for the club to return to glory. On Monday of this week, the business mogul expressed his interest in working with whoever is running the club. It remains to be seen if Katholo and co will open their hearts to accommodate Zakhem lest it will be a marriage of convenience.


GU faces a precarious situation they never confronted before. They stand of the brink of collapse should they fail to pay sacked player P400 000. It is either relegation or Zakhem! The current Secretary General of the club co-opted by elder’s committee, Kennedy Ramojela argues that there is no rift between Katholo and Zakhem. He is of the view that elders want proper procedures to be followed for Zakhem to rejoin the team he says he adores the most.


“It is a perception that the two men are not seeing eye-to-eye. Elders want procedures to be followed to the letter for Zakhem to come again on board,” he said. GU is currently toying with the idea of renegotiating with Chippa United where its two players have been purchased.  The initial agreement was that Chippa was to pay in installments until next year June. 


It was agreed that P 200 000 be paid after registration is finally completed. The second installment, which is P 500 000 is expected to be dropped in December while the last P 500 000 will be completed in June of next year. GU badly needs this money to retrace the redemption road. Zakhem in the meantime is watching as the clock ticks.

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