Botswana’s most lucrative cup competition, the Mascom Top 8, will be restructured to avoid fixture congestion. The competition, which had previously been taking place during the second half of the season for the past two years, has since been rescheduled to begin in November this year.
The competition made its debut in the 2011/12 season and started in April 2012 causing a clash with Premier League and Coke Cup games. The fixture congestion resulted in a marathon season which ended in July last year.
Gazette Sport had previously reported that last season the Botswana Premier League (BPL) had approached Mascom in a bid to stage the competition on an earlier date. They (BPL) had proposed for the knockout competition to take place from October to December but an agreement was not reached. The competition then commenced in February last season, two months earlier than the previous year.
The BPL and Mascom have now finally reached an agreement on the new dates of the competition. The agreement was possible because of the Africa Youth Games which will be staged in Gaborone in May next year. Thus, the football season is expected to end in April next year to pave way for the games to be staged successfully.
Final fixtures of the competition have been revealed; Mochudi Centre Chiefs will take on Township Rollers, defending champions Gaborone United will take on Ecco City Greens, Nico United will face Extension Gunners while BDF XI will lock horns with BMC.
This season’s Mascom Top 8 tournament will begin on November 2, with the first leg of the quarterfinal ties. The second leg ties of the competition will take place on the weekend of November 29th while semi-final ties will begin on January 25. As the first leg matches will kick off the year, the return legs will be staged on the weekend of February 8th and the final is billed to take place on March 1.
Mindful of last year’s controversy, the BPL has ensured that all teams will have the chance to play home games to have a sense of equality. Last season, teams based away from Gaborone were denied the chance to host games in their accustomed home stadiums in favor of the Molepolole Sports Complex which was meant to fit the demands of former interim broadcasters, Supersport.
Gaborone based teams were familiar with the Molepolole based stadium since they regularly played most of their matches at the venue, and clubs from Lobatse, Francistown and Selibe Phikwe complained about the fixtures but the matter has since been resolved for this year’s edition.