BNOC, BAA in Olympic dilemma
WILL HE BE AMONG THE CHOSEN THREE? Karabo Sibanda has an outside chance
Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) technical teams’ think tanks will have a hard time deciding on the final three athletes to represent the country at Rio 2016.
As of now four 400m runners have qualified for the World’s biggest sporting showpiece. Baboloki Thebe, Isaac Makwala, Karabo Sibanda and Onkabetse Nkobolo have all qualified for the Brazil hosted multisport event.
However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) clearly states that each country should be represented by only three athletes per category.
“More athletes may still qualify for that event and each country is limited to maximum of three athletes. Therefore the final three shall be determined at the end of the qualification period,” BNOC CEO Tuelo Serufho highlighted, but the question is who will be chopped?
The Ramonaka born Thebe has been on a scintillating form as evidenced by last weekend’s 44:22 seconds finish. Makwala on the other hand is performing satisfactorily registering impressive times that helped him secure a third spot at the ongoing IAAF Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco.
The dreaded axe is expected to fall on either Nkobolo or Sibanda if their current records are anything to go by. The latter, who qualified last weekend has not convinced this season despite his 45:40 record time.
As for the Spain based Nkobolo, he may still have to show cause why he should be included in the team because his times are not convincing. This past Wednesday at a Dakar meet he recorded 46:30.
While these four athletes are still optimistic about their prospects of representing this nation ahead of the golden jubilee celebrations, all is not lost for other athletes wishing to qualify.
Leaname Maotoanong is the lone hopeful who can further complicate the puzzle for BNOC and BAA. Last week he clocked 46:33, a margin below the qualification requisite.
It is a foregone conclusion that Zachariah Kamberuka is injured and he will not attempt to qualify for Rio. As for the fringe Pako Seribe, the train has already left the station, he must wait until next season to return to the track. The qualification curtain will only close on the 11th of July.
The moment of truth is nearing for both selectors and athletes – because the beat must go on – but commentators are of the view that only those with the best finishing time should make the top three.
This conundrum may be disheartening for athletes because it is never an nice experience to be dropped at the last minute ahead of an event like the Olympics. On the other side it will be a delight for others who will avoid the chop as they will be part of the team that will have to bring two medals to Botswana before the hyped 50 years celebrations.
However impeccable sources say it will not be doom and gloom for those who will fall short in the 400m as they will be redirected to be 4X400m relay team.
Botswana is eyeing the two medals available in this categories and nothing will be taken for granted as those who qualify are expected to specialize in only the event they qualified for. This will mean that the trio that will qualify for the 400m will not be distracted by the relay event.
Nigel Amos, Makwala, Nkobolo and Kamberuka have been the core members of the relay team and it is expected that this time around there will be an adjustment on the team.
The 400m race has seen six Botswana athletes qualifying including the female duo of Lydia Jele and Christine Botlogetswe.
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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.