Rollers bow out of CAF tourney

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By Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone - Township Rollers' debut in the group stages of the CAF Champions League might have folded in agony, but the Botswana club departed with a feather in its cap.

Rollers have been hailed by most of the visiting teams as perfect hosts. Travels for teams across Africa have been nothing but a nightmare, with all sorts of off the field shenanigans aimed at distracting the visiting sides.

Rollers kicked off their campaign with a date against Sudan's Al Merreikh and the Central Africans were smitten after they were booked in a four-star hotel in the capital and transported around in a luxury coach.

The treatment was extended to other clubs, Young African of Tanzania, Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) of Uganda, Egypt's Al Ahly and Tunisian giants, Esperance. Ahead of their ultimate clash at the National Stadium on Tuesday, Esperance coach, Khaled Yahia, had nothing but praise for the Botswana side's hospitality.

"We have been well received by Rollers and treated well, which is rare in Africa," Yahia said during Monday's press conference, hours after his side had touched down in Gaborone.

While they failed to progress to the quarterfinals at the first attempt, Rollers exit the competition with at least some consolation.

However, their participation was soured by constant fines regarding television broadcast breach.

The club was hit with a P400,000 (US$40,000) fine for failure to secure a broadcast partner for the game against KCCA.

There is yet another P280,000 (US$28,000) fine following their clash against Al Ahly, which will eat into the club's P5.5 million prize money from CAF.

However, club president, Jagdish Shah is unhappy with how they have been treated.

"We do not know why we are charged in the first place. We do not know of the arrangement between CAF and local broadcaster, Btv. What is worrying is that we are not allowed to talk to CAF directly, but through the Botswana Football Association (BFA)," Shah told the local media.

Rollers and KCCA failed to progress to the quarterfinals, while Al Ahly and Esperance made the last eight.

The Botswana champions will return to the re-scheduled edition in November, with vital lessons.

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