ROLLERS COACH BOOTED OUT
It is a quiet Wednesday evening in Gaborone’s Block 3, and Township Rollers’ ex coach Darlington Dodo is sitting in the dark nervously fiddling with his cellphone.
The load shedding has no mercy even for a man who has just lost his job.
From his modest phone he switches on the flashlight, its beam swallowed by the lingering darkness.
Shadows flicker like giant ink stains across the living room walls. Lost in thought, his face is difficult to read in the dimly lit room.
“I’m used to this. We (coaches) are globe trotters,” he says, breaking the silence.
Newly appointed Rollers’ Executive Manager Setete Phuthego pulled the plug on Dodo’s reign on Tuesday morning following a string of bad results.
The Zimbabwean mentor has been under pressure after unimpressive results during the Easter holidays.
But the 1-4 loss to city rivals Gaborone United in the Mascom Top 8 semifinal first leg seems to have been the final straw.
“I have not lost the cup. Anything can happen in football.
The 1-4 score line can still be reversed in the second leg,” Dodo says, but his words lack the conviction of one who really believes.
Being the most successful team with the largest following in the country, Rollers now face the prospect of a barren season and may even fail to make it into the Top 8 bracket with just seven matches remaining.
Is Dodo to blame though?
The league winner with Gunners Football Club in Zimbabwe says he is not a failure and is still in shock at the way things have turned out.
Dodo points out that when he arrived at the Gaborone West club there were divisions with some players demanding to be released.
He credits himself with bringing unity and cohesion to a squad that was depleted by transfers at the end of the season.
“The team had lost its backbone. Remember that Tsotso Ngele, Kabelo Dambe, Amos Godirwang and Tebogo Sembowa all left the club.
These were key members and some of the replacements failed to live up to expectations,” he says without mentioning names.
Admitting that the results did not get off to the start he was hoping, the soft-spoken Dodo said the beginning of his career at Rollers was the most difficult he had ever faced.
“There was a time that I even struggled to form an 18 man squad.
In our 0-1 loss to Tafic in Francistown I only took a team of 11 players and I did not have a full squad during our 1-2 loss to Nico United,” he recalls.
The coach who is still awaiting the official dismissal notice from the club, admitted to having enjoyed his short stay in the country and would be glad to remain for some time.
“Being offered another job here will be great. I still have a point to prove because I know I’m not a failure,” he says.
The tactician dismissed the suggestion that he had lost control of his dressing room, maintaining that he had a good rapport with his players.
To prove the point he reads through text messages players have sent regretting the news of his dismissal.
One reads: “I’m really sorry that it had to come to this, you have been such an inspiration and we let you and ourselves down.”
His phone beeps bringing another text message.
A deeply religious man there is reference to God in almost all his responses.
“I’m thankful to Rollers because they introduced me to Botswana football.
I thought football was not big here but was shocked that the country is struggling to export players to Europeans leagues after seeing the abundance of talent available.”
He is of the view that Tsotso Ngele should be playing in Europe while the likes of Mirror Shimanyana could also make the cut in some of the more lucrative European leagues.
He describes the young left-winger Kobamelo Kebaikanye as a “gem that just needs patience.”
“My only concern though with Botswana footballers is their love of beer.
These young boys abuse alcohol and it will hamper their growth as footballers.
Supporters also have to play a role – there is no use in telling the coach after we lose a match that you saw players drinking the day before,” he says squinting into the dim light as if trying to see into the future.
He peers down at his phone again. But the battery is low and the screen for now is blank.