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AFCON 2021: Will the Zebras gallop again?

For far too long, Botswana has become more of a spectator in the African Cup of Nations qualifying race. The future of this footballing nation mirrors a tomorrow that may never come. Ever since the remarkable and buccaneering record set during the wonderful reign of coach Stanley Tshosane, The Zebras has been nothing but dull.

Four AFCON finals passed without hearing anything from this country. Other than hiring and sacking coaches, Zebras has struggled to find its way out of mediocre zone. Just a year after returning from their maiden AFCON 2012, The Zebras drew the Eagles of Mali and entered immediately into a cul de sac. The Zebras were hammered 7-1 aggregate in a preliminary stage as 2012 accolades began to fall apart.

That feeble performance was never tamed but spread dangerously into the 2015 qualifying campaign. The team, under the stewardship of Peter Butler, managed only a point after six outings. While it is harsh to condemn the Butler assembled side, it is also apposite to accept that the Zebras was drawn in a rather difficult group that consisted African heavy weights from West and North. There was Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia. Between 2015 and 2017 qualifiers, the pattern never changed. The Zebras struggled to break psychological barrier, playing 6 games and scoring only once.

But as the Zebras begin to prepare for fifth AFCON finals since 2012, having drawn tougher opponents that includes African champions Algeria and perennial campaigners Zimbabwe and Zambia, the contrast with these nation’ squad buoyancy could not be starker.
For Algeria, the 2019 edition has been a wonderful, hard-earned moment of sporting grace for a nation once riddled by political instability. They turned the corner on the back yard of their neighbors, Egypt to win their second cup in 20 years. Therefore, The Zebras could be haunted by their failure to tame the North African giants as well as their own neighbors in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zambia, like the Zebras, is in the rebuilding process, but they have never endured a torrid time whenever they took a Botswana assignment.  According to the history of the African football, the two nations have met 17 times, with Zambia winning 1o games. 5 games were played to a draw and Botswana only won twice.  There have been glimpses of excellence in a team that has looked energized, and won the 2012  AFCON finals when nobody expected it. No doubt that Zambia’s revolutionary results are coming to play after winning the COSAFA cup edition at the mercy of the Zebras.

As for Zimbabwe, time is evolving and many had hope that, as one of the most successful sides in Southern African football, the Warriors would now be at the summit of the region, but it seems to them that even in football, there is no easy way to the top. They have played in two consecutive AFCON finals but were embarrassingly knocked out of group stages. All the while, Zebras has to understand that it will take greater leap of faith to down the Zimbabweans who remains the only country to have handed them an embarrassing defeat of 7-0 in 1990.

Botswana is expected to take some pride from Cape Verde of 2010 and Madagascar of 209; they can’t just leave with crossed arms, and so followers think this is going to be a very one-on-one match. Quite a number of South African sides are seen to be organized in doing their things, no wonder their success, both in the region and the continent is merited. And Botswana as an upcoming footballing nation is not far off the mark.

However, in reality, these two South African countries have never proved to be dangerous opponents whenever they faced The Zebras.  Of late, they have been busy luring some of their naturalized players in Europe to come and play for the country of their origin to re awaken their dominance.

However, stories of a disjointed  association and 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.

They intend on bringing psychology and massive training to the game, but it also seems that, as much as they want to copy the style of other countries, basic skill is still a needed requirement. To date, Zebras loss is based around a diligent, muscular defence and a fast-breaking, penetrative attack by opponents. Coaches from these South African sides now know a 2021 failure will not be accepted when the campaign begins in October. It is safe to forget about Algeria, but for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, patience is fast running thin.

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Sport

BPL NOT profitable – FIFA

19th April 2021
BPL

A study conducted by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), has revealed that a turnaround strategy is needed to make an elite league body, Botswana Premier League (BPL), a profitable entity.

The study piloted in June and completed in December of last year, depicts a picture of possible improvement where a total of 16 premier league clubs were examined and studied on how they conduct their football related businesses.

It comes out that 54% of premier league club revenue streams are from general sponsorship while a paltry 2% is generated from gate takings. A further 11% of profit is from broadcasting rights and that remains abnormal in a game that should be well known to be propelled by rich television agreement worldwide.

Moreover, BDF XI, Gilport Lions, Extension Gunners, Miscellaneous, Morupule Wanderers , BR Highlanders, Police XI and Prisons XI have all demonstrated a heavy reliance and dependence on sponsors, prices and monthly grants, while the quartet of Jwaneng Galaxy, Orapa United, Township Rollers and Gaborone United have all managed to source revenue streams outside the common and well known sponsor outlets.

Of all the 16 premier league clubs, Jwaneng Galaxy emerges as the top club that is able to attract moneyed sponsors. The study shows that the Jwaneng outfit rakes about P 5 million in sponsorship revenues, followed by their ‘rival brothers’ Orapa United who receive an approximation of P 3 million per football season.

The two clubs are at the fore front because of the footsteps and presence of Debswana in their leadership radar.Coming third is Security Systems whose purse get around P 2.5M from the parent company, GU is on fourth spot at around P 1.5M. Township Rollers is on a distant fifth position with about P 1M per season of individual sponsorship.

The rest of the clubs receive services in kind such as accommodation, playing kits, training kits, fuel and water and soft drinks. This further underlines the struggle to make profit as footballing team in the elite league, the study highlights.

However, from the report, it emerges that only Township Rollers has the capacity to make profit from a good football season. Much of the club revenues are from the sale of its replica jerseys. The club as powered by Jagdish Shah sells about 3000 replicas at a value of P 350 000.It is the only club that sells merchandise from sport chain stores (Studio 88) and according to the report, it is a reliable indicator that shows fans engagement level with the club.

While it emerges from this study that ticketing revenue has a low weight on club’s revenues varying from 2-9% depending on the club, Rollers again is the only club making profit from this front.

But to further underscore the issue of lack of business sense in the elite league, it comes to the fore that there is low fan attendance per home game and this is the major cause of low ticketing revenue.

Gunners however top the table, averaging a total of 5000 supporters per game. Gunners is followed by Rollers at 4000 followers while Miscellaneous comes third with 1700 fans per home game. On average, it shows that 75% of clubs have a fan base while the remaining 25% have absolute nothing.

The report further indicates that many of Botswana’s elite clubs are experiencing financial difficulties because of the model of ownership.
“Clubs legal entity form is not homogenous and 25% of them are owned by the government,” the report shows.

The report therefore recommends that clubs should standardized ownership models as this will lose dependency on government.“Furthermore, legal conditions will be the same for all clubs and transparency of the BPL will be enhanced,” the report curtailed.

However, BFA says it knows nothing about the report but one member of the executive committee says the association is addressing all problems bedevilling Botswana’s game.

The member is adamant that all administrative loopholes of the game will be resolved and it is why FIFA project time for change is still on going at regional level.

8 – Numbers of clubs that make financial losses
4 – Clubs do not depend on gate takings
1 – club is self-sustaining

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Sport

Rollers rejected Ngele

19th April 2021

Nikola Kavazovic, Township Rollers’ pragmatic Head Coach, is said to have scuppered a move that was to see Botswana international Magokolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele joining the club in this football calendar.

Instead, the player proceeded to join Limpopo province based outfit, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C. carrying a long face.

It is reported that Shah, the club’s investor, had wanted to sign the left footed midfielder to bolster an attacking front but Kavazovic flatly refused to sanction the move, adding that his squad is solid and strong even without Tsotso Ngele.

According to reports, Ngele was to be offered a contract with a salary scale of P 40 000. Shah believed, and still holds the same view, that Ngele’s name is a powerhouse that was to further market the team and increase its brand awareness in Botswana’s business community.

However, Kavazovic is said to have told some members of the technical team that it is always difficult to coach and manage players who are favoured by Shah.

Ngele is reported to be nostalgic and would want to play for a home team in the stature of Rollers. As things stand, he is not enjoying his stay at Thohoyandou and it explains why his appearances at the club are an oddity.

Ngele had a successful season with Roller in 2012 where he won the Mascom Top 8 Cup under Mike Sithole. He was expected to be guided by Kavazovic to help mount a serious challenge for this year’s silver ware.

Rollers on its own have reshuffled their attacking options over a period of time, losing darling striker Joel Mogorosi to Gaborone United while another robust striker Teenage Orebonye was poached by clubs abroad.

Before the arrival of Kavazovic, Rollers’ technical team bitterly complained last season about the lack of productivity from their attackers but they hoped that the ever-consistent Edwin Moalosi and Ngele, aided perhaps by Segolame who remains in the books, can fire an upturn.

All the while, it is said Ngele will still force his move to Popa and there is hope that his personality and experience will eventually serve to inspire the rest of the attacking options, most notably the younger players like Kago Monyake.

Rollers have always sought to have leaders in their squad, players who have won big games and can bolster the collective belief. Their signing of Mogorosi few seasons ago was rooted, in part, by what he could bring away from the field.

Rollers still wish that Ngele could cut his stay and further negotiate with Kavazovic to sign the player and bring a country wide spread inspiration and determination he possessed after carrying the club to its inaugural top 8 edition in 2012.

That year he won the golden boot playing as a second striker. When he left Rollers, we went straight to command a starting line up with Platinum Stars. A year later, he won the Telkom knockout player of the tournament.

Some members within Rollers fold argue that Shah knew right from the start that he was not going to be able to control Kavazovic and his wishes of signing Tsotso might as well disappear on the furthest horizon.

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Sport

Dambe, Tsotso dump Zebras

12th April 2021

Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.

The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.

It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.

Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.

Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.

Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.

Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.

Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.

Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.

A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.

Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.

He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.

“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.

Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.

However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.

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