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Who wins 2014/15 premier league title?

The 2014/15 premier league season commences today, August 8, with an evening kick-off between top-flight newcomers Sankoyo Bush Bucks and Motlakase Power Dynamos at Maun Sports Complex.

This will be the 11th season since the top division was renamed, rebranded and expanded from a 12-team super league in 2004. Starting with teams that are expected to contest for the championship, BOPA evaluates how every team will fare this season.

The title favourites

Just like last season, it appears the battle for the league title will be a four-horse race between defending champions Township Rollers, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Gaborone United and BDF XI. The four have assembled strong weapons to sustain a concerted push over 30 matches.

Township Rollers

Last league title: 2013/14 season League titles since 1978: 12

The record top division winners with 12 titles since 1978 have beefed up their already strong artillery with the acquisition from BDF XI of Otlaantshekela Mooketsi, who is widely regarded as the best leftback in the country.

The skillful Segolame Boy has also arrived from relegated Miscellaneous to bolster the attack, and if coach Madinda Ndlovu can successfully blend him with the likes of Sekhana Koko, Kobamelo Kebaikanye, Gofaone Tiro, Motsholetsi Sikele, Jerome Louis and Maano Ditshupo, then Mapalastina supporters can expect their team to rip opponents apart.

Ndlovu’s men have already landed the first punch on their prospective title rivals by claiming the pre-season Barclays Kabelano Charity Spectacular over the weekend. Bolstered by their recent acquisition of a multi-million Pula sponsorship deal with Capital Bank, Rollers is in a strong financial position and has managed to hold onto the services of all stars from their title winning campaign.

BDF XI

Last league title: 2003/04 season League titles since 1978: 7

Matebele have retained the bulk of the squad that nearly won the league last season, Otlaantshekela Mooketsi being the only high profile departure from the Mascom Top 8 Cup champions and be Mobile league runner-ups.

With that consistency it will not be unrealistic for Matebele supporters to expect their team to finally banish its 10 year league title famine. BDF XI has seasoned campaigners such as goalkeeper Takudzwa Ndoro, Mompati Thuma, Patrick Motsepe, Ofentse Mmipi, Mokgathi Mokgathi and Master Masitara, making a very balanced team in every department.

After an impressive breakthrough season, youngsters Kabelo Seakanyeng and Pelontle Lerole are also equipped with enough experience to play more than a small role. BDF XI’s strength remains their mean defence, but they have also developed a more expansive attacking approach since the arrival of coach, Elijah Chikwanda in December.

Gaborone United

Last league title: 2008/09 season League title since 1978: 3

Moyagoleele has flattered to deceive since winning the league back in 2009, producing sterling performances in patches, but never really good enough to sustain a concerted title challenge.

However, that could change with the recent deployment of Rahman Gumbo from the role of technical director to head-coach. Expect GU to come out firing this season because Gumbo is a proven winner having previously won titles in his native Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana.

He built Township Rollers into an aggressive attacking unit on their way to winning the league and Coca Cola Cup double four years ago. GU has a lot of quality players such as Kaelo Kgaswane, Osego Gaotewe, Edwin Olerile, Jackie Mothatego, Alphonse Modisaotsile, Kgololo Kgogobi, Tebogo Sembowa and the long serving Ronald Chikomo. The acquisition of defender Thabiso Khunwane, striker Tendai Nyamadzawo, and goalkeeper Phillip Nhete will further bolster the team.

Mochudi Centre Chiefs

Last league title: 2012/13 season League titles since 1978: 3

Last season’s fourth position was seen as failure by the demanding Kgatleng giants. And with the respected, but nomadic Mike Sithole back in charge, Magosi are expected to come out in full force and challenge to regain the title they won back to back in 2012 and 2013 under Madinda Ndlovu.

The departure of defenders Thabiso Khunwane and Arnold Chaka, and holding midfielder Elvis Meleka may have been a big blow, but Magosi have moved swiftly to replace them with Keabetswe Jenamiso and Tendai Nyumasi, both from Ecco City Greens.

The two, together with nippy former Uniao Flamingo Santos attacker Senatla Molefhe, were impressive during the Barclays Kabelano Charity Spectacular.

Back from a spell at Polokwane City, if Kekaetswe Moloi can strike a good understanding with the powerful Bonolo Fraiser upfront, with Pontsho Moloi, Molefhe, Lesego Galenamotlhale and Lemponye Tshireletso offering support services, then things will be happening at Magosi.

Dark horses for the title

Last league title: none League titles since 1978: 0

Nico United: Over the past few seasons Majombolo have transformed themselves from a modest team based in the copper mining town of Selebi Phikwe to a serious threat in the premier league.

They finished in a very credible second place in 2013 and with former Zebras assistant coach Kenneth Mogae now in charge, they are capable of staging another stunning campaign. Despite the loss of key players such as Topo Piet, Moagedi Gaseitsiwe and Kagiso Tutuwe, Nico have managed to keep key players like Richard Legwaila, Onkabetse Seforo, Odumetse Rakoma and young striker Onkabetse Makgantai. Mogae has the acumen to mould Majombolo into an exciting team like he did with Boteti Young Fighters six years ago.

Police XI

Last league title: 2005/6 season League titles since 1978: 1

The Jungle Kings finished seventh on their return to the premier league last season after suffering the heartbreak of getting expelled from the league for failure to pay affiliation fee.

Though Maitumelo Letlaamoreng has replaced Sthando Mogwadi in the coaching seat, changes in the coaching personnel won’t affect the team because he has worked with the players before as assistant coach. He also has a proven track-record as head-coach, having guided the team to promotion to the premier league two years ago.

The Jungle Kings have signed eight players, including midfielder Louis Manjale from Mozambique and Makai Kewashu from Zimbabwe.

Extension Gunners

Last league title: 1994 season League titles since 1978: 3

The sleeping giant of Botswana football - mood at the Peleng club has suddenly improved following the announcement of multi-million Pula financial backing from the Ismael and Dada families.

The cash injection was expected to help coach Draglo Stanojlovic build a competitive squad that will finally get the club out of the doldrums. He has already brought on board Topo Piet, a quality winger from Nico United, Isaac Paeye from Notwane  and striker Moemedi Moatlhaping on a free transfer.

They might not be league winning material yet, but signs are that this should be a bright campaign where Gunners finally fight at the top half of the log rather than continually battle against relegation. ENDS

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