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Rollers gamble with ‘signings’ may backfire

Publishing Date : 16 February, 2015

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The extent to which Madinda Ndlovu can maintain his squad’s balance with new arrivals will go a long way in deciding the outcome of Township Rollers’ title defence, argues STAFF WRITER MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE
Township Rollers hell-bent on achieving what Mochudi Centre Chiefs have achieved in recent times, that is to retain the championship in the Premier League era.


To help in this quest, Madinda Ndlovu and Jagdish Shah have acquired Jerome Ramatlhakwane, who can play every position in attack, on a loan agreement and Chiefs failure to retain him cut them deep. They have, against all odds, lured Dirang Moloi to strengthen their midfield, and brought in Noah Maposa to offer serious competition for both Mwampule Masule and Michael Pepukani.


Rollers are pleased with this business considering that they are entering the preliminary stages of the CAF competitions against South Africa’s heavy weight side, Kaizer Chiefs.  But the one player Rollers has splurged more money on – though there are questions as to whether they really need him – could be pivotal in their charge.


Tshepo Motlhabankwe signed in January and there are reports that he could have joined the blue team some seasons back, only for Chiefs to tighten the relations. While Rollers remain confident about the arrival of ‘Talk-Talk – there is word that there was no need to rush the deal – as one of the most expensive signing in the club’s history, how Motlhabankwe fares will be intriguing. Of the four games played thus far, Rollers has won one, and lost the other three.


The player who is on the wrong side of 30 was bought to play alongside Oscar Ncenga in central defence. Leutwetse Tshireletso was an important factor during Rollers’ title-winning run-in but his pace and injury is suspect and he is also ageing – and after a somewhat arduous campaign playing in Zebras games – he is past his best.


The concern with Motlhabankwe is how he is settling in at Township Rollers. The former Zebras left back’s temperament will be tested and questions about his sustenance are emerging particularly after Chiefs game.


Also, there is doubt whether he will ride into Rollers on a wave of enthusiasm, having previously publicly expressed a preference for Chiefs, as well as continually prevaricating over the transfer. But to some observers, it is a non starter given the mouth watering salaries at Mapalastina.


The curious case of Kobamelo Kebaikanye popularly known as ‘Swere’ appears to have been solved, though maybe only for the time being. The rumblings of discontent from the youngster feel like they could flare up again at any moment after reportedly missing training complaining about his low monthly salary.


While Dirang Moloi has been signed on a loan deal for half of the season, he is 30 and is no straight replacement for the dynamic Segolame Boy. The former Chiefs player played his first game against BDF XI and without doubt, rustiness was his main undoing.


Regarding his future, Rollers assistant coach, Zacharia Mudzadzi says: “He knows we have a very good team, we have a lot of players in his position. He is one player more. We have a lot of games particularly coupled with CAF ones, so he is very important for our team.”


Beyond these issues, though, Rollers was expected to enter the second round in serene and highly confident mood. Madinda added a first title in three years of trying and Mascom Top 8 cup dream is still within reach. However with this, comes greater expectation and Madinda will soon be fielding questions about whether not winning the league this term will constitute a failure.


A squad featuring the star turns of Lawrence Majawa, Sekhana Koko, Oscar Ncenga, Maano Ditshupo, Motsholetsi Sikele, Segolame Boy, Jerome Louis and who are backed up by Dirang Moloi, Gofaone Tiro, Thato Bolweleng, Jerome Ramatlhwakwane, and Manqoba Ngwenya should be dominant at all costs.


Rollers have a great chance of emulating what Chiefs did two previous seasons of winning a consecutive Premier League titled. If Ndlovu’s band can finish above the Kgatleng giants side, they should do so.
Premier league records show that at week 19 (same stage at this one), on their way to winning the 2013-14 season, Rollers had collected 41 points winning 12 matches. It reflects that, they had lost 2 games while 5 of the 19 games ended with a draw. They scored 30 goals while conceding only 9.


This time around, the Blues record either tilt down a bit or shows a slight improvement. They now sit second on the spot with 40 points. They have won 12 games, same as last season after 19 games. They have lost 3 games and went on to draw 4.

However, they have improved on their scoring prowess. This time around they have found the back of the net 42 times - a record of 12 more goals compared to the last season. This scoring ability is nonetheless betrayed by their defending acumen as 16 goals have been scored against them compared to 9 of the previous round after 19 games.

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