BFA U-turns, endorses USA 2026 bid
In a rather shocking development, Botswana Football Association (BFA) through their President Mac Lean Letshwiti has voted and endorsed United States of America (USA) to host the 2026 world cup, in process snubbing an initial agreement held by other African member states to campaign for Morocco.
BFA spokesperson, Tumo Mpatane said that the association did a thorough consultation with Botswana Government and all relevant structures which at the end convinced them to go with America. “We looked at the issue holistically, we consulted with all associated bodies, in the end US bloc was too good to ignore,” he said. The US together with Mexico and Canada will co-host the famous glittering football tournament. A joint bid by these three North American countries under the name ’United’ saw off the challenge of a rival proposal from Morocco, winning over two-thirds of the vote.
The United bid persuaded 134 of the 203 delegates eligible to vote at the 68th annual FIFA congress, which was held on the eve of the 2018 tournament in Russia. Morocco hoped to become the second African nation to host the tournament but earned just 65 votes on Wednesday and suffered defeat in a World Cup bidding process for the fifth time.
Ironically, Morocco was let down by some member states of the African continent including Botswana. it is said that 10 other African countries over-looked Morocco’s bid, denouncing a resolution held by Confederation of African Football(CAF) at Morocco at the beginning of the year to campaign for the second World Cup in Africa. 10 other countries that voted for US are; Benin, Cape Verde Islands, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Nambia, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
While Morocco faced an uphill challenge against US, it was anticipated that African counties would rally behind their counterpart, especially after these African states united to bring down former CAF president Issa Hayatou in March of last year. Prior to this FIFA summit, BFA had accepted the Morocco motion together with other Southern regional football associations. They believed that it was only through cooperation and hard work that they can bring the eye of the football world in Africa- once more.
It was believed that the Northern region where Morocco falls, had played a telling part in bringing down the former football president, therefore, launching a bid in their support was so much important for the cause, sources claim. All the North African countries including Egypt and Tunisia have however stuck to the initial agreement of giving Morocco a chance.
BFA was part of the team and, in particular, it said it unreservedly supports the Morocco’s bid. This was even backed by the football relations between the two associations enjoyed at the close of last year. On the 7th of March of last year, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the two parties (Botswana and Morocco) to foster a working football understanding. In the same agreement, the two federations agreed that they shall work together and facilitate the organization of friendly matches of senior national, local and Olympic teams – that is under 23.
Morocco federation was also expected to help BFA in the training of technical and administrative staff as well as referees, through exchange of programmes. These include, among others, development of sports events programmes and training workshop as well as promoting the development of youth football.
The Morocco federation had also committed that it shall incur the costs of accommodation, food and local transportation of the BFA delegation for a maximum of 35 people, during the football matches organized there. BFA was also expected to retain favour when Morocco travels down south. If nothing changes along the way, this agreement is expected to last for a period of 2 years.
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It’s do or die for Zebras
The senior national team, the Zebras, is currently in Equatorial Guinea to for an African Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie. Before they departed, the team’s coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, had his troops train in Morocco. This was through the agreement between the two countries.
The agreement between the BFA and the Fédération Moroccan Football Association states that the two nations will work together to organize friendly matches between their respective national teams. It also allows the establishment of football camps for the youth categories (U-15, U-17, and U-20), this includes women’s national teams.
The national team has played over 180 minutes in its two qualifying matches against Tunisia and Libya. Currently, the Zebras, Lesotho and Liberia are the only teams that haven’t scored yet in the competition (this is correct by press time on Friday).
Before the match against Equatorial Guinea match, the local boys who were once known as the whipping boys of Africa in the early 2000s, were languishing at the bottom of the log standings in group J. They lost their first match away to Libya on June 1, 2022. However, they managed to salvage a point against Tunisia last year.
Before the team left for Equatorial Guinea, coach Mpote urged his players to focus on keeping their hopes of making a return trip to the AFCON finals alive after an 11 year absence since the maiden appearance in 2012. He noted that they would not allow their opponents to score and would ensure that they would get a draw.
Despite the various changes that have occurred in the two countries’ football landscape, the two teams have only met once before. In 2010, the local boys defeated the Equatorial Guinea team in a friendly match, which ended in an emphatic win for the visitors. Since then, the two sides have realised different fortunes in FIFA rankings, with Equatorial Guinea ranked 51 places above the Zebras.
Meanwhile, in their last six games, Guinea has only managed to win one of them. They drew with Rwanda and Togo in September 2022 friendlies. They have found the back of the net just twice in their six games. On the other hand, the Zebras, won one match against Zambia and lost four on their way to finishing at the bottom of the group with four points. At the conclusion of their previous AFCON campaign, the local boys traveled to Zambia and secured a draw.
Despite the recent results of the Guinean team, which have only managed to draw with Rwanda and Togo in their last six matches, coach Mpote is still confident that his team will perform well against the hosts.
According to the head coach, the local boys have the necessary skills and resources to perform well against any country. He noted that the team’s coaches have been studying abroad to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of football.
“Tactically they should also be ready. We need your (Botswana fans) usual support, when we come back from Equatorial Guinea, we will go to Francistown, and we will need you. You are our 12th player, and you are very important to us.”
OBED ITANI CHILUME STADIUM CERTIFIED
This week, the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Tuelo Serufho revealed that the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium will host the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the local boys and Equatorial Guinea. The venue had initially failed an inspection test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, following the completion of the necessary works, the stadium was allowed to host the match.
According to BNSC Chief, Tuelo Serufho, the various requirements that the stadium must meet included having a designated parking area for the media and spectators, as well as having signage that will guide the spectators. He also noted that the venue now has a world-class media area.
Jagdish Shah rejects Rollers society
Township Rollers, one of the country’s most decorated football clubs with 15 premier league titles, is finding itself in a precarious situation as its long-term chief financier, Jagdish Shah, threatens to dump them if the society does not bow down to his demand of forfeiting their 20 percent interest in the company.
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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon
Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.
He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.
The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.