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Zebras face Zimbabwe dilemma

Good experience, more ambition. Coach Adel Amrouche is such a good dreamer and disciplinarian that he could almost write the headlines for the media himself.

In four words, the Zebras head coach summed up the looming task with such passion and seriousness whenever he calls his squad.  Since his arrival, he has always gone for youth and talent but he never forgot maturity and experience. But the average age of his group of players is only 24, which is the youngest in the last 10 years for Botswana. Proof of the depth that Botswana has, Amrouche has suspended some big names including Thero Setsile, Mothusi Cooper, OnkabetseMakgantai and Mothusi Johnson.

Amrouche might come to regret some of those decisions, but he had his reasons. The quartet is believed to be difficult to control and the coach might have lost patience quickly. However, the Zebras mentor is optimistic that his squad will reach AFCON finals to be held in Cameroon in 2021. This is even backed by the fact that two teams from each group will automatically qualify.

With this in mind, it was also pleasing to hear the coach acknowledge the lack of cohesion in the attacking third and pledging to improve on the game against Egypt, where he narrowly lost by a goal to nil. The evidence might point to a conservative squad constrained by Stone Age play and their thinking. Under former coach Peter Butler, Lebogang Ditsile appeared as an excellent footballer, made his reputation as an unanswerable force in the midfield. Kabelo Seakanyeng is overlapping in the side territory. For the Zebras, he plays on his own, a more withdrawn role that often exposes him.

With the Zebras’ midfield core so deep, the creative responsibility falls to wide men who are essentially denied any opportunity to apply sustained pressure because they do not see enough of the ball. By extension, the center-forward is condemned to 90 minutes running in the wrong direction chasing down opposition full backs, this has been the story for Zebras even at the historic AFCON 2012 participation. But there are indications that Amrouche is looking to alter his tactics a little bit. The man of the match often time displayed by Seakanyeng, gelling well with strikers inspires faith that a more improved attacking scheme is being crafted.

However, continuing calls of attacking football are still pouring. There is need to identify this as a deeply fulfilling viewing experience. The dominant school of thought still lays the blame for Botswana’s seemingly travails at the quality of players at Amrouche’s disposal. Yet Onkabetse Makgantai, when given a chance continues to show composure and slotting home with both feet that there is technique in his game. But the question still looms; will Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele bounce to his intriguing form on time? Before he experienced a late dip in form, he teased teams on his own.

He may not have the same explosive pace, but the league former goal scorer, now with Gaborone United, Thatayaone Kgamanyane has the necessary authority and if he lives to attain his form together with Omaata Kebatho or Joel Mogorosi, they might be the heartbeat of Zebras at this AFCON qualifying edition.

But first, there is Zimbabwe on the way. This is a country that has qualified for the last two editions of AFCON finals and Amrouche knows that it will take a lot to beat Zimbabwe in their back yard. A country with unmatched talent in Southern Africa. Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona Marvelous Nakamba… A win is a far-fetched dream, but it is ‘a must’ because Algeria- the African Kings- who will come after Zimbabwe -are a more difficult opponent.

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Hostility inside Zebras camp

22nd February 2021
Zebras

The qualifying rounds of the next edition of 2022 Africa Cup of Nations are nearing resumption. But it looks more and stiffer for Adel Amorouche and the Zebras to maneuver the qualifying terrain in March.

So many hurdles lie ahead as the Zebras desperately need to gallop and cross the line. Having drawn tougher opponents that include African champions Algeria and South African perennial campaigners Zimbabwe and Zambia, the contrast with these nations’ squad buoyancy could not be starker.

But what is even more complicated from the Zebras camp is the amount of hostility the coach is forced to face just few days after calling his supposedly troops into camp.

The Algerian gaffer — who is tasked with guiding the squad to the finals of the prestigious tournament for the first time after 9 years — is reportedly facing fresh accusation bordering on favouritism, abuse and sabotage.

This week alone about four players left the camp on different occasions but with similar reasons; that the coach is verbally abusing them.

Amorouche, a well-known strict disciplinarian, is also accused of side-lining players who refuse to agree to his secretly established love of selling national team players to oversee countries.

It has become public knowledge that Amrouche has sold Kabelo Seakanyeng and two former Township Rollers players, Simisane Mathumo and Tumisang Orebonye to a Morocco based club.

It is said on Monday of this week, he attempted to negotiate terms with defender Lesenya Ramoraka for a deal to be established. Those close to the developments state that the former Highlands Park player refused altogether to heed to Amoruche’s call, something that compelled the coach to chase away the player under the pretext that he is injured.

It turns out that indeed Ramoraka is still battling with a recurring knee injury he sustained while at Highlands Park but sources disclose that Amrouche forced matters for Ramoraka to come to camp. Was Amrouche compromised? The question brings multifarious answers.

“The player was called with full knowledge that he is carrying an injury, but it raises eyebrows in the manner he was chased. I mean there is no assessment of his injury, there is no report whatsoever,” a source shared.

It does not end here. Gaborone United player Tshepo Maikano also stormed out of the camp after enduring a tongue lash from his boss. It is said the player did not take it kindly and so was another GU player, Mothusi Thupa.

GU has since written a letter to the association seeking clarity about the development.When asked for comment, national team manager Monnakgotla Mojaki refused to answer to questions from this publication and said the coach himself is better placed to respond.

In 2019, Amrouche took what was an infamous decision to suspended four players from Zebras camp.
At the time, the coach argued that the quartet of Mothusi Cooper, Thero Setsile, Onkabetse Makgantai and Mothusi Johnson failed to show seniority and professionalism. But he has since pardoned them.

Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) says it is familiarising itself with full details of the issue. Kgosana Masaseng, the Secretary General of the Union said if it really true, then the coach has to man up or face the sack.

“We also hear that as grapevine but we are monitoring the situation. Should this come out as the truth, we call the coach to resign and go home than start abusing players in the name of discipline,” Masaseng said.

Zebras will face The Warriors of Zimbabwe in March but there is strong argument in the ground that Amrouche has already scored an own goal.On the other hand, stories of a disjointed association and less competitive league do point rather wearily to the basic obstacle on Botswana’s own path that for so many years of separation of ownership and club control, with many investors coming to the game and now the Premier League edging Botswana national team’s concerns to the fringes.

Against Zambia last year, Amrouche intended on bringing psychology and massive training to the game, but it also seems that, as much as he want to copy the style of other countries, basic skill is still a needed requirement. To date, Zebras game is based around a diligent, muscular defense and a fast-breaking, penetrative attack by opponents.

Amrouche now know a 2022 failure will not be accepted when the campaign takes another twist. It is safe to forget about Zambia, but as for Botswana, patience is fast running thin.

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No room for racism – BFA CEO

22nd February 2021
zebras

The Botswana Football Association Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabiso Kebotsamang has denied claims that there is racism at the ongoing Zebras camp.

Zebras’ players reported for camp last week to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier clash with Zimbabwe to be played next month in Francistown.

Botswana is third on the Group H with a point behind Zimbabwe and a win for the Zebras will see them leapfrog Zimbabwe to be second on the log before heading to the already qualified Algeria.

The camp has however been surrounded with controversy after some players were said to have been kicked out of camp.

“We have seen the reports on social media but I can confirm that there is no racism in our camp and we as an association will do not tolerate that and what I have been told is that players were assessed and as the norm some will be dropped due to injuries and various reasons,” said Kebotsamang, who ascended to the hot seat after the association parted ways with Mfolo Mfolo last year.

According to sources within the Zebras camp some players, Tshepo Maikano and Lesenya Ramoraka are said to have left the camp as they felt the coach gave them a strong lashing.

“Tshepo Maikano did not appreciate the way coach Adel criticised him for one of the goals scored by Zambia in the first leg fixture. We were doing drills, and time again he reminded Maikano how he failed the team to defend that moment,” said a source.

“Maikano felt hard done as the coach repeated the same thing over and over again even though he saw that the player felt bad about it.

“As for Ramoraka he came with an injury and he could not continue as he wants to fully recover unlike Thatayaone Dithokwe who sacrificed himself for the nation it’s just that he opts to be fully fit before coming back to play.”

The source revealed further that coach Ambrouche is a very demanding coach and wants players to deliver at all times and sometimes players may take his message wrongly.

“I think he should balance being hard and sometimes be soft so we as players can relate to him openly because now players are a bit scared of him,” continued the source.

When contacted for comment Gaborone United Director Nicholas Zackhem said they are yet to meet with the player and get the story first hand from him.

Meanwhile Orapa United mouth piece Kabo William said they were surprised to learn of their player’s return from Zebras camp on social media, indicating that they should have been informed by the association once the player was released or when the association found out he is missing in camp to avoid conflicts between club and country in future.

The Zebras camp will continue next month, with foreign based players expected to join local ones as the nation looks to qualify for their second Africa Cup of Nations.

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DC Tours abandons Gunners takeover

22nd February 2021
Extension Gunners-Dirang Moloi

Negotiations between Lobatse based outfit Extension Gunners and transport logistic company DC Tours have collapsed frantically with the latter growing ever more frustrated and withdrew their touted P 2million investment amid fears that the club is unstable and not ready for change.

The company walked away after one single meeting with Gunners management before it was pushed away, reports claim.

DC Tours are said have grown annoyed by the manner in which Gunners management arranged and held the discussions.

The club is said to have sent their player Dirang Moloi to represent them, something that did not go well with the company high ranking authority.

Moloi is a player but also an upcoming business man who happened to be the provider of the club’s merchandise last season but sources inside Gunners management felt that, in Moloi, the club failed to calculate the amount of serious coming from DC Tours corner.

DC Tours was said to be star struck by Gunners as one of the most supported brand, but their approach to serious matters has left the travel and transport logistic company with no choice.

It was reported that DC Tours was at an advanced stage to inject start-up capital and acquire 80% of shares but their bid was heavily reliant on the Gunners management decision.

The first stage of agreement was deliberated and decided in principle over the cause of last year, although details remain sketchy even to this date. The deal was supposed to follow many years of casting empty promises by the club previous committees to bring on board a trusted investor and traverse the commercialisation route.

Although sources say it is against the club’s constitution to run Extension Gunners that is operating as a society thorough contract management deal, any other worries and loopholes were to be dispelled to leverage a spade work on amendment of the constitution.

It was to be agreed that the club‘s account was to remain operational while DC Tours was to be in charge of finances and set to give Gunners society at least one third of the investments at the end of every football season.

The deal was to be concluded before the commencement of the new season and a space was left out for other companies who may want to partner with the Peleng outfit to come on board, sources claim. Late last year, it was also rumoured that the club was negotiating with former CMB Chairman, Okaile Rapula, but that never proved to be true.

Extension Gunners finished last season in a very uncompromising situation. The club has never known peace since winning the then Coca Cola cup in 1992. After one Tariq Babitseng was voted as club Chairman, the club battled identity crisis as the committee split and factionalism took centre stage.

However, Gunners management refused to share details about the DC Tours partnership.

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