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GU rekindles Butler interest

Controversial former Zebras Head Coach Peter James Butler is heavily linked with a move to ‘resurrecting’ premier league giants Gaborone United (GU) few days after a new regime— closely admired by Nicholas Zakhem—took full control of club.

Zakhem is a business mogul who has also sponsored the outfit since the summer of 2009. Sources told WeekendSport that Butler is a close friend to Zakhem and the business guru himself cannot wait to have Butler as GU coach. GU has already fired their Zambian born coach, Lazarus Magaya. As an immediate alternative, goalkeeper trainer, Khalid Nyonzima has been appointed the new head-coach on interim basis.

Despite the club's very secret courting of the Briton, there remains the possibility that an unnamed Brazilian gaffer could compete for the post. The said Brazillian is also admired at the Gaborone giants. It is not yet clear if Butler will gladly accept the GU offer, but what remains unchallenged is the fact that he has proven his mettle with The Zebras  and his ‘ feel’ for African game is unmatched. But some sources say his experience divides opinion particularly after failing at Platinum Stars of South Africa.

All the while, GU is cautioned to treat issues of coaching with the seriousness they deserve. It is one club that hires and fires quickly. Rudolph Zapata, the last full-time coach to drill the Money Machine left the club when nobody expected it. The dents that ultimately bashed his reputation altogether, came when GU fell way short in their domestic title challenge as Township Rollers, GU fiercest rivals continued to open insurmountable gap.

Zapata had  protested throughout that in leading GU back to the top of the country’s game after years in the wilderness, he could have achieved all that could be expected of him only if he was well taken care of. He might have also lamented GU’ s lack of impact in last year’s close-season transfer window, having seen good players failing to come to his team and the club management failing to match Rollers’ purchasing power.

As if it was not enough, there were unconfirmed reports that there is a lot of interference from the management of GU which inadvertently gave Zapata and his predecessors the leverage to lay the blame for these setbacks squarely at the door of the club’s board for moving too slowly in making decisions. It remains to be seen whether the outspoken Butler will accept the GU hierarchy, despite the acceptance that further significant squad strengthening will take place in the next coming transfer window.  

Reinforcements however have been made in the central midfield and in the goalkeeping department. Jackie Mothathego, the stalwart midfielder-cum striker who has been instrumental to their rise has returned to the club after going AWOL for some time. While GU will only publicly address the coach situation once the issue with Magaya is complete, discussions have been taking place for some time behind the scenes and the club has sounded out potential replacements for him. Reports linking Butler with GU follow rumours that have been doing the rounds lately that the team management was seriously considering employing Butler as the technical director.

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Finally, sponsors jerk BFA

30th January 2023

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.

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Clubs petition Zackhem, Jagdish Shah

23rd January 2023

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.

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P80 million windfall for BFA

9th January 2023

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.”

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