The scramble for automatic promotion and play-off places is intensifying as the battle at the top end of the Debswana First Division League Championship is hotting up with only three games left.
Francistown based Tafic Sporting Club leads the Debswana First Division North (DFDN) with 48 points ahead of Morupule Wanderers with 46 points. Gilport Lions is leading the pack in the Debswana First Division South (DFDS) with 30 points, three points ahead of Matebejane which is trailing with 27 points.
Both Tafic and Gilport Lions were relegated from the BTC Premiership last season and they seem to be favourites for automatic promotion as they are currently leading the North and South division leagues respectively. Matjimenyenga Boys or Undipe Ndikupe as Tafic is affectionately called has won 15 matches of their 19 encounters, they have shared the spoils in three games and lost one. Morupule Wanderers also have 15 wins, one draw and three losses. Sua Flamingoes occupies the third spot on the log with 12 wins, three draws and four losses.
In the DFDS, Gilport Lions have won nine matches of their 18 encounters, drew three and lost six. BDF’s Matebejane in second position have won seven matches, drew six and lost five while Uniao Flamingo Santos have won six, drew nine and lost three. DFDN has proved to be more competitive than the south division considering the difference in points collected. There is an 18 points difference between Tafic (48) and Gilport Lions (30) despite the South division trailing by a single game. Tafic has played 19 games while Gilport Lions have played 18. Matebejane which is second on the log in the DFDS with 27 points, has the same number of points with Eleven Angels which is number four in the DFDN.
Glory for Francistown
Of interest is the City of Francistown which boast the country’s biggest stadium which nevertheless remain underutilized owing to all the Francistown Football Clubs playing in the lower divisions. The second City is banking on Tafic once again to bring back the glory days that the city used to enjoy when Tafic and city rivals, Francistown City Greens, formerly Ecco City Greens were both playing in the elite league.
Tafic Captain, Uyapo ‘Carlos’ Tibathuwe asserts that a return to the BTC Premiership is certain for the Francistown based outfit. The combative midfielder from Senete told Weekend Sport in an interview that Matjimenyenga Boys are not about to surrender their position in the automatic promotion race. Tafic will face Francistown City Greeens in the Francistown derby today and will be aiming to extend their two points cushion at the summit of the Debswana Second Division North league.
While Tafic have possibly been the best team in the DFDN championship and looked on course for a quick return to top flight football, Morupule has been a fierce contender threatening their fortunes for a comeback. The two teams have been on few occasions swapped positions, an indication of a tough contest but Tafic’s marksman is optimistic of a premier league return.
With Morupule Wanderers breathing heavily down Matjimenyenga Boys’ neck, Carlos insists that his side is primed to achieve promotion to the premiership, promising that they will not run out of puff to make the people of Francistown and the region happy again. “It is not going to be easy but we are going to fight with everything to make sure that we gain automatic promotion to the BTC Premiership. In short, we are going to the premier league,” said the confident Tafic Captain.
With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.
Some disgruntled Botswana Football League (BFL) shareholders are planning to petition the BFL board led by Gaborone United director and chief financier Nicolas Zackhem and his treasurer Jagdish Shah. Furthermore, they want to challenge the Botswana football Association (BFA) leadership over the deteriorating status of football in the country.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is poised to benefit from FIFA’s forward development programme. The Association will receive over P80 million to be used during the course of the next four years, as the world football governing body is strengthens its commitment to building a stronger foundation and the growth of football.
The Forward 3.0 funds – to be accessed by all 54 CAF members for the next four years have seen an increase of USD 2 million compared to Forward 2.0 cycle and Forward 1.0 cycle when the programme was launched.
According to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the third cycle of the programme will be launched this month and it will dedicate more financial resources than before to developing football nations as there is an overall increase of approximately 30% compared to Forward 2.0.
“It is vital that we are now strengthening our commitment to building a stronger foundation for the growth of football,” Infantino noted.
The 62 page report by FIFA-Forward-Development-Programme-Forward-3-0-regulations also reveals that for travel and equipment, each member association, subject to compliance with the regulations, will receive an additional USD 1 million to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for their national teams. It further states that the remaining funds may be used to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for domestic competitions organized by the member associations.
“A contribution of up to USD 200,000 for the four-year cycle (2023-2026) to cover the cost of any football equipment related to the training of players and organization of matches (e.g. full kits for the national teams, balls, mini goals, bibs, substitution boards and referees’ communication systems) for those member associations that are identified as needing the most assistance,” the report indicated.
FIFA President, Infantino and his team said the member association is identified as needing the most assistance, for the purpose of the contributions, where their annual revenues (excluding Forward Programme funds as well as funds from any other FIFA programme/ initiative) do not exceed USD 4 million as the figure shall be reflected in the latest annual statutory audit report submitted to the FIFA general secretariat within six months after the closing of the relevant financial year.
Nevertheless, the contributions for travel will be released in four equal installments of USD 250,000 each in January every year, whilst those for equipment will be released in four equal installments of USD 50,000 each in January every year provided that the member association has fulfilled the conditions.
For the specific projects – in the case of Botswana and Namibia – there is an ambition to host the AFCON 2027 and if the joint bid succeed, the two nations will need to build new stadium to meet the requirements of CAF as the Bid technical committee has alluded before; therefore the two associations could make an appeal for extra funds to FIFA.
The report further says where a member association uses funds allocated for specific projects to improve or build new football infrastructure for its direct benefit or for the benefit of another entity (e.g. regional associations or clubs), the member association shall also provide, as part of the supporting documents, the FIFA general secretariat with the relevant national land registry certificate or extract confirming that the member association or the other entity is the owner of the land or the agreements confirming the donation, transfer or other form of provision to, or use of land by the association.
When contacted for comment, local sports analyst, Jimmy George said; “Ours is more a lack of vision, than money to finance programs. Regrettably when you lack vision not even USD 8 million can bail you out. Its pity the funds might be used to pay for the past projects that have yielded very little success.”