Following a first defeat by emerging power house of African football, Mauritania, Botswana is suspected to become little more than a spectator in a marvelous race as both Mauritania and as expected, Burkina Faso, vie to top the group and progress to the AFCON finals to be held in Cameroon next year.
However, Botswana’s Zebras will be on a mission to record first victory when they host fellow group strugglers, Angola next month. As the Zebras prepare for second game, the contrast with the Angola squad’s buoyancy could not be starker. This is a wonderful, hard-earned moment of sporting grace for a nation once riddled by political instability, to turn the corner on their own back yard. The Zebras could also be haunted by their failure to tame Angola in the yesteryears of Coach Colwyn Rowe’s reign.
Angola, like the Zebras, has started badly, but the relaxed coach seems to be Major David Bright after inheriting an almost depleted squad. There have been glimpses of excellence in a team that has looked energised, storming into group stages.
Angola too, is on a revolution and many had hope that one of the most successful sides in Southern African football would now be at the top the group, but it seems to them that even in football, there is no easy way to the top.
“The mother of football cannot leave without any points and that makes things very complex,” Bright said. Botswana is expected to take some pride from Cape Verde of 2010; 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 Portuguese African sides are seen to be organized in doing their things, no wonder their success, both in Africa and the world is merited. And Botswana as a country is not far off the mark as well.
However, in reality, the South African country who hosted AFCON in 2010 have never proved to be a 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.
The country was for a long time been engulfed in civil war and that led to many Angolans seeking refugee around the world. This led to many Angolan talented players being born away and ended up playing for countries of their refugee especially in Europe. The Angola government is now fighting tooth and nail to at least bring on board those who have played at youth level so that they can easily represent The ‘Palanca Negras’ as Angola is renown.
But stories of a united 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 both sides now know a loss will effectively start to end their chances of reaching Cameroon for the finals. But even Bright will know that taking the team to Cameroon was never be his mandate. He is still building. But for Angola coach, his countrymen are fast running out of patience.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.