The 2017 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifying draw conducted this month has pitted the senior national team (Zebras) against familiar foe in the mould of South Africa.
The two teams are expected to play each other in a preliminary round on the second week of July, on a two legged affair. The aggregate winner will then proceed to the next round of the competition. The pairing of Botswana and South Africa is a repeat of the 2016 Confederations of South African Football Association (COSAFA) final, where the latter won the tournament under dubious circumstances.
The local Football Association is therefore forced to prioritize the issue of the coach as qualifying rounds appear close. Zebras’ coach, Peter Butler’s contract expires at the end of February and currently, the association has been stalling, giving him a new contract. The association is mindful to take advantage of the tournament in preparing for the upcoming African qualifiers commencing later in June.
When spearheading the Zebras late last year, Butler managed to finish third behind eventual group winner, Burkina Faso and runner up, Uganda. The toss might force BFA to renew the coach’s contract mainly because he gave South Africa, a major threat in winning the tournament, a difficult time in a final played at Windhoek, Namibia last year.
CHAN is a football tournament which was first announced on 11 September 2007. It is administered by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and is played between the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships and qualified to play in the ongoing season. Expatriate players, regardless of where they play, even in Africa, are not qualified to take part in the African Championship of Nations.
The creation of the African Nations Championship was a response to the desire to revive or strengthen national competitions which are regularly weakened by a mass exodus of top players who leave their home countries to play for foreign teams which pay more and get them more media coverage. Starting from the 2014 edition onwards, all of the matches are recognized by FIFA as first team matches.
The first tournament was held in 2009. It was hosted by Ivory Coast and won by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The competition was expanded to 16 teams for the second tournament, held in Sudan in 2011. The tournament was won by Tunisia in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution. The tournament is held every two years, alternating with the Africa Cup of Nations.
Here is a brief glimpse at the head-to-head history between the two teams.
1993- Botswana 0-2 South Africa
Since South Africa returned to international football, there has been enormous pressure on Southern African national teams to perform, Botswana included. In 1993, Bafana Bafana came to Gaborone and beat Botswana 2-0 via goals by John Mosweu and Rudolf Seale. The two teams played preliminary rounds of AFCON.
1999 – Botswana 1-2 South Africa – COSAFA Castle Cup
Former SuperSport United and Santos attacker Diphetogo ’Dipsy’ Selolwane had opened the scoring for The Zebras as early as the 13th minute but Bafana rallied back just before half-time in quick succession, with goals from Pollen Ndlanya and Alfred Maimane Phiri; sealing the win for the South Africans.
2002 – Botswana 4-5 (pen.) South Africa – COSAFA Castle Cup
On route to clinching their first COSAFA Cup title, Bafana played an attacking brand of football. However Botswana held their nerves which saw the match end in a 0-0 draw. The game was eventually decided on penalties, with SA triumphing with a 5-4 shootout win.
2006 – Botswana 6-5 (pen.) South Africa – COSAFA Castle Cup
The following year saw The Zebras get their revenge also in spot kicks after the match had ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
2007 – South Africa 1-0 Botswana – COSAFA Castle Cup
Teko Modise scored the only goal of the match in the 32nd minute to hand Bafana the narrow win over Botswana. That year also saw South Africa claim their second COSAFA title. 2013- Botswana 1-1 South Africa- WORLD CUP Qualifier
Under Stanley Tshosane, Bafana Bafana took an early lead through Morgan Gold, but Botswana equalized briefly through the Ofentse Nato’s strike. South Africa went on to win the return leg in their home soil by 4-1.
2015 – South Africa 6-7 (pen.) Botswana – COSAFA Castle Cup
This was the last time these two teams met in the competition, as The Zebras pulled off one of the major shocks in the quarter-final to advance to the semis.
Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.
The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.
The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.
Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.
It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.
He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.
Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.
The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.
The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.
This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.
BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.
Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.
If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.
There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.
Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.
As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.
The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.
Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.
Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour. Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.
The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation. On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”
The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.