In the Bible, David, despite his small physique, defeated the monstrous Goliath. Zebras, one of the under-achieving national teams in Africa, from a country with one of the smallest populations in Africa, now has a David who is expected to Brighten prospects in a Major way.
The big question is whether Major Bright will do a Bible David on the Goliaths of African football. Former Zebras players are guarded in their assessment but the scales tip in favour of the former army major’s return to national team coaching. A good number of former senior national football team players are confident that Major David Bright could propel the senior national team, Zebras, to respectable rankings following his appointment as the national team coach for the next three years.
Bright takes over from Briton, Peter James Butler whose loose canon antics did not help his cause as the Zebras’ poor showing in Africa continued albeit a resurgence of public support, especially in the north. The national team legends who always express concern over the propensity to sideline them on national team matters came out of the woods to contribute words of encouragement and praise for Bright and the decision to appoint him.
The charismatic coach, who has also coached in the South African Leagues characteristically took an oath during his unveiling this week. He believes he can deliver on the goals set by Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, MacClean Letshwiti and his team.
The players, Khumo Motlhabane and Seabo Gabanakgosi, agree that ‘Fakude’ has the know-how of evacuating the team from a pit of misery following Peter Butler’s almost failed attempt at redeeming Zebras. However they both give guarded praise poised with caution. While it is a tough call for Bright to entrench a national team DNA, reach COSAFA finals, qualify for CHAN finals, reach AFCON qualifying stage and World Cup group stages, there is an air of optimism from former players that the coach could produce the needed results.
There is almost consensus that with his disciplinarian style and better understanding of local players, Zebras can reach the height set by former Zebras mentor, Stanley Tshosane. Bright is all on the right corner because the BFA President, Letshwiti believes in him and has said he is ready to channel all the necessary resources to the team.
An Ex-national team player who once worked with the former Mogoditshane Fighters coach at the national team posits that, just like wine, Bright matures with age. “He is one coach who grows with time, I worked with him nine years back but if you look at the training methods he uses now – they are contemporary,” he said.
“The only problem is working with Sthando (Mogwadi), they are both old there was a need for a younger assistant to complement him because football has evolved and they have been away from mainstream football for some time,” further observes Motlhabane. According to the hard-tackling defender popularly known as ‘Shoes’ – Chicco Nare, Pio Paul, and Tumie Duiker could have been the more sensible additions in the technical team. However he is itching for the coach to maintain the core of players that were selected by Butler. “Those players will suit his style of play because they are skillful,” he said.
Bright revealed to journalists that the players categorically told him that they prefer short passes football. On the other hand another former player who wouldn’t want to be named said Bright shouldn’t be too strict on the players. “His man-management tactics will be tested, nowadays players own cars; and are handsomely paid, so if he becomes too imposing they could fail him. His CV is decorated but he has failed at bigger teams (GU & Rollers) so I hope he has improved on that regard because it could backfire.”
Another former national team captain, Seabo Gabanakgosi says Bright is the right man for the national team. “There have been issues within the team with players going out, with the firm Bright, those will be issues of the past as he will instill discipline that is currently lacking in the team. Again he understands the players and as a Motswana this is a plus for him to bring the results, his man-management style will be pivotal in bringing results,” he concludes.
The newly formed Botswana Coaches Association chaired by Nelson Olebile has also sung praises for the gaffer. “He has vast experience in local football and he is a winner and as an association we are behind him all the way,” he said. Asked to comment on the localization of national team technical benches, Olebile said: “We want football development, so we shouldn’t deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from others; anyone with the right qualifications should take the job. Anyone valuable who can help us entrench the DNA is fine, but remember we are just advisors, BFA makes the final decision,” concluded Olebile, whose association is still awaiting membership approval from the BFA.
FIFA currently ranks Botswana at position 138 out 211 while CAF rankings pits Zebras at position 40 out of 56 countries. Botswana’s FIFA highest ranking was position 53 achieved in 2010 under Stanley Tshosane. The lowest rankings was position 165, recorded in 1999. Butler’s highest ranking was position 91 recorded in 2016. The P85, 000. 00 per month worth Briton, who is now with Platinum Stars in South Africa had 7 wins, 14 loses, and 1 draw under his belt, a somewhat poor record, according to many. Bright is expected to improve on this dismissal record starting this weekend.
The negotiations involving Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) over elite league sponsorship have suffered a setback as the local brewer this week took what it termed a ‘difficult’ decision to shut down operations.
This effectively means that football sponsorship is back in its dark corner as all efforts to go back to the field take another nasty twist in the midst of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is regrettable that this latest total ban on alcohol sales has resulted in the suspension of KBL operations, which will remain in place for as long as the alcohol ban persists. KBL continues its efforts to engage government on this critical issue, which is having an enormous impact on the industry and its extensive value chain,” the company explained.
Although not proudly maintained at Lekidi Football Centre, the company is said to have abandoned talks on explanations revolving around ‘lack of funds.’In the initial agreement, sources say that it was settled that KBL would sponsor the Botswana Football League at a tune of P30million for a period of three years.
It is maintained that the deal was to be relooked and redefined to fit the sponsorship modalities of today’s game.Highly placed sources speaking with this publication however state that BFA is assisting BFL to cajole other companies to come on board as football is about to return to the field.
Top of the list is ABSA Bank who have remained afloat despite the impacts of the virus. The bank is said to be committed to football but sources say it will take a considerable amount of persuasion to see the bank increasing sponsorship.
KBL, in the first phase, were willing to commit without much difficulties but after the storm of COVID-19, the company was to take a back seat and played a waiting game. They reasoned that the continuous lockdown the country has gone under has left them with little income than expected.
But according to sources, KBL is still expressing pleasure to engage with the association again and will further illustrate their willingness to come on board as soon as the corona virus situation subsides.It is said KBL has requested further information regarding sponsorship value from the association and once satisfied, negotiations will resume.
However, some administrators within the National Executive Committee believe KBL’s parting message does not inspire confidence. “KBL‘s phase is over, they gave us hope but it is difficult to keep track of them, COVID-19 has affected every plan,” one member shared.
At the close last season, way before the corona virus impacted the country negatively; BFA revealed that it had long compiled its situation analysis of sponsorship value for the local game. It was understood that the property that is the Premier League could be purchased at a value P 15 million over 43 premier league games.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Maclean Letshwiti.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is engaged in protracted talks to stage a mini-league as lee-way to ascend into a proper football season by August this year.
The idea is to keep players fit and all football structures functioning as time pressure mounts.Informants say the idea is discussed at the competition office and will soon be forwarded to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for further deliberations.
This therefore means that all leagues across the country will be played for only one round until August where a new full football season will resume. Football has never returned to the field for almost 10 months now due to the corona virus.
The situation on the ground looks gloomy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with each passing day. Football clubs are also feeling the pinch with Sua Flamingos becoming the latest victims. The club has been forced to suspend operations as players and members of the technical team test positive for the deadly virus.
While playing a mini-league is a last resort, it is mentioned that no team will be promoted or relegated after the completion of the games.Sources say it is better than folding arms when teams are continuing to pay players without kicking the ball.
The idea of the mini-league therefore means that there will be no prize money but teams will likely survive with grants from identifiable sponsors. Already, the Botswana Football League (BFL) has secured a P 5 million television deal for over three years.
The BFL think tanks contemplate to augment the television deal with sponsorship grants from ABSA bank. According to information, this will keep the league and its secretariat running until everything gets back to normalcy.
“It is true we are thinking to stage a mini league looking at what we have but this is still an infant idea, we are discussing and we will engage NEC going forward,” a member of the association shared.BFA leadership finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place as the motion to kick start the league in February was shot down by the assembly in October of last year.
The movers of the motion argued that high temperatures usually recorded in the South of Sahara desert negatively affects player performance and their overall health conditions. However, there were intentions to commence the league at the earliest possible time but the task force together with the Ministry of Sport wanted players to be tested and football fields be fumigated regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
Early this week, the BFL leadership engaged the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) to give an update on how football will return. However, this publication cannot adequately establish the detailed plan of the league.
Boteti based side, Orapa United were quick to snatch back Zebras left-back, Lesenya Ramoraka, tying him with a two-year deal after he was released this week by TS Galaxy.
The 26 year-old defender left The Ostriches in 2018 to join Highlands Park who later sold their status last year to renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy. Ramoraka’s contract was to end this year July.
At the time of the sale, the team then opted not to register him for another season hoping to register him in the January transfer but his injury kept him out for longer than anticipated, forcing TS Galaxy to release him as he was free to start to negotiate with any team that may be interested in him.
“We have signed Ramoraka after assessing his injury and he is in Orapa as we speak doing his rehab.The injury is not bad and we expect him to resume light training anytime from mid- February,” said Kabo William, the club spokesperson.
Ramoraka left an impressive mark at Highlands Park where he played 29 games in all competitions and netting only once. Lee, as he is known in football circles, is one of the most trusted left backs in the country and has been a vital part of the Zebras with his absence felt at the national team.
“The team had wanted to keep him but they were just concerned that his injury was taking long to heal and they opted to release him as you cannot have a player out for too long more especially who is a foreigner,” said a source.
“He had survived the changes at the team and you have to also note that the coach who brought him, Owen Da Gama also just joined TS Galaxy and he is one of the players that he trusted and used so it is not a matter of performance but they couldn’t afford to have him on the side-lines for too long.”
Orapa United have also announced the signing of other players that include; Thabiso Boti formerly with Notwane, Kutlo Kolagano from City Eagles, Galagwe Moyana who was released by Township Rollers, Kagisano Mungu from TAFIC and the team promoted Phemelo Pushudi from their development side.
The Ostriches have released goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga who has signed a 2 year deal with Sua Flamingos, Mothusi Johnson who retraced his steps back to Gaborone United, Baboloki Makhura and Abdullah Hamisi.