By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone - Botswana’s glamour side, Township Rollers, this week fired its history-making Serbian coach, Nikola Kavazovic, who had become a divisive figure within the popular club.
Kavazovic oversaw the team’s most successful period in the club’s 57-year history after winning a double last season, as well as reaching the group stages of the CAF Champions League.
However, he had become a divisive figure with regular confrontations with players, including a training bust-up with Zebras winger, Lemponye Tshireletso.
Kavazovic also clashed with sports journalists and refused to give media interviews despite a standing Botswana Premier League policy, which forces coaches to avail themselves for post-match interviews.
He had a strained relationship with his local assistant coach, Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote, who was isolated until he decided to quit the club.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was a clash with wealthy and influential club president, Jagdish Shah.
The 43-year-old is respected as an astute tactician on the field, but question marks have always stood out over his off-the-field attitude.
Rollers said it had to respect the players’ dignity, hence the reason to get rid of the Belgrade-born, former Sri Lanka national team coach.
“Rollers have mutually terminated the contract of Mr Kavazovic with immediate effect. The management has taken this decision to respect the dignity of players, technical team and executive management, including the president of the club,” the club chairperson, Walter Kgabung said in a statement.
“The appointment of a new head coach will be communicated as soon as it is finalized.”
Under Kavazovic, several senior players were sidelined, including former national team stalwarts, Ofentse Nato and Tshepo Motlhabankwe.
Despite delivering silverware, and becoming the first ever coach to lead a Botswana side to the group stages of the CAF Champions League, Kavazovic proved an unpopular figure with the fans.
He has been linked with a move to struggling South African Premiership side, Baroka FC.