- “Good man management helps me get the best out of my players” – Sithole
Police XI won many hearts across the nation in 2006 when they won the league, they have always been a respectable side even though they did not build on their title win to create a trophy laden dynasty. However, they went on a downward spiral in the past two seasons whereby they avoided relegation by a very narrow margin.
In the 2016/2017 season they managed to survive because of a superior goal difference compared to Nico United, both teams were level on 32 points. Last season they finished 13th once again as they were only one point above relegated Francistown outfit TAFIC.
The arrival of Mike Sithole in August seems to have transformed the club as they aim to qualify the Mascom Top 8 for the first time in two seasons. Police XI are currently situated in the fourth spot on the log and they started the 2018/2019 season like genuine title contenders.
Although they are now trailing in the title race they have managed to have a say in how teams line up at the top, a case in point is this weekend’s 2-2 draw against title challenging Jwaneng Galaxy which dented the latter’s efforts to keep up with league leaders Township Rollers.
Galaxy were only minutes away from securing a much needed win which would have seen the lead between themselves and Rollers be only two points but Police XI snatched a 90th minute equalizer to dent Galaxy’s hopes.
Sithole has managed to get the best out of Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi and Bonolo Frazer, both players are among the league’s top scorers and they have been the driving forces behind the team’s return to the top half of the table this season.
It seems success always follows Sithole wherever he lands, he won the league with Gaborone United in 2009, he also became the first coach to win the Mascom Top 8 with Rollers in 2012 before winning the league with Mochudi Centre Chiefs in 2015. His latest piece of silverware was at Jwaneng Galaxy in 2017 as he led them to their first major trophy (the Mascom Top 8).
In an interview with Gazette Sport, Sithole explained that the secret to his success is good man management. “I believe I am doing the same thing I have done at Chiefs, Rollers, GU and Galaxy, which is good man management. It is important for a coach to be a father figure and have good relations with his players. I always make them a part of the decision making process. I know the football culture in Botswana and how to approach the players, you cannot be a dictator because they would not respond well to that. Another key factor is that I am always learning as I go, I cannot think that I know everything all the time,” Sithole told this publication.
Police XI are well aware that they have 10 games left to cement a Top 8 berth and they appear determined to finish the season on a high.