The Zebras has never prevailed against Mali, and next weekend; the teams will face each other again in an all-important 2018 World Cup qualifier match. However, this time around they will battle it out at the newly opened Francistown Sports Complex where the Zebras are yet to lose a game at.
The game is equally important to both as neither have qualified for the world cup before. And Mali has made their intentions clear, as they will be bringing a full squad that could spoil the afternoon for many Batswana next Saturday (November 14).
The formation coach Butler has been using in the past games, the 3-5-2 will also be tested when the Zebras take on the West African Eagles. The formation has in the past proved that against much better opponents we could be heavily demolished.
On Independence Day, the Ethiopia game flashed enough warning lights and Mali has brought in quality players that will be a thorn on the flesh of the Boitumelo “Navarra’’ Mafoko led backline. A viable option would be for the coach to use four defenders instead of three.
Again, against the physically intimidating Mali, Oris Radipotsane and Butler should consider the physical players who can match the opponents. Who can forget what happened in Lobatse three years ago, when the lanky Cheick Diabate had a field day facing the stocky Edwin Olerile.
The Les Aiglies are well known for their power play which relies much on the height of Diabate at front line and Couliballies at the back. Their style of play can be mixed with slow possessing which can frustrate the opponents and if things get tough they can rely on the individual brilliance of players like Modibo Maiga and Bakary Sakho who are technically gifted.
Historically, Botswana has always struggled against the West African sides; Guinea minced the local boys 6-1 at the AFCON finals in 2012. Botswana however has defeated once Togo, beating them 2-1 at home, before succumbing to a 1-0 defeat away. Recently, the Zebras won against another West African side, Burkina Faso in the 2015 AFCON qualifiers.
Despite facing the better opponents on paper, local fans believe that football is an unpredictable game and are optimistic that the Zebras could defy the odds and leave the continent in awe by defeating the 2013 AFCON third/fourth finalists. In Francistown, the team could just do that if their psychology could tell them that Ghetto is their slaughter house. The team has made only one change in the squad that is expected to begin their camp tomorrow. Butler has called on Maano ‘’Abotreika’’ Ditshupo into the team, as left back Kaone Van der Weisthuizen is still nursing the injury he sustained last weekend against Police XI.
With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.
Some disgruntled Botswana Football League (BFL) shareholders are planning to petition the BFL board led by Gaborone United director and chief financier Nicolas Zackhem and his treasurer Jagdish Shah. Furthermore, they want to challenge the Botswana football Association (BFA) leadership over the deteriorating status of football in the country.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is poised to benefit from FIFA’s forward development programme. The Association will receive over P80 million to be used during the course of the next four years, as the world football governing body is strengthens its commitment to building a stronger foundation and the growth of football.
The Forward 3.0 funds – to be accessed by all 54 CAF members for the next four years have seen an increase of USD 2 million compared to Forward 2.0 cycle and Forward 1.0 cycle when the programme was launched.
According to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the third cycle of the programme will be launched this month and it will dedicate more financial resources than before to developing football nations as there is an overall increase of approximately 30% compared to Forward 2.0.
“It is vital that we are now strengthening our commitment to building a stronger foundation for the growth of football,” Infantino noted.
The 62 page report by FIFA-Forward-Development-Programme-Forward-3-0-regulations also reveals that for travel and equipment, each member association, subject to compliance with the regulations, will receive an additional USD 1 million to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for their national teams. It further states that the remaining funds may be used to cover the cost of travel and accommodation for domestic competitions organized by the member associations.
“A contribution of up to USD 200,000 for the four-year cycle (2023-2026) to cover the cost of any football equipment related to the training of players and organization of matches (e.g. full kits for the national teams, balls, mini goals, bibs, substitution boards and referees’ communication systems) for those member associations that are identified as needing the most assistance,” the report indicated.
FIFA President, Infantino and his team said the member association is identified as needing the most assistance, for the purpose of the contributions, where their annual revenues (excluding Forward Programme funds as well as funds from any other FIFA programme/ initiative) do not exceed USD 4 million as the figure shall be reflected in the latest annual statutory audit report submitted to the FIFA general secretariat within six months after the closing of the relevant financial year.
Nevertheless, the contributions for travel will be released in four equal installments of USD 250,000 each in January every year, whilst those for equipment will be released in four equal installments of USD 50,000 each in January every year provided that the member association has fulfilled the conditions.
For the specific projects – in the case of Botswana and Namibia – there is an ambition to host the AFCON 2027 and if the joint bid succeed, the two nations will need to build new stadium to meet the requirements of CAF as the Bid technical committee has alluded before; therefore the two associations could make an appeal for extra funds to FIFA.
The report further says where a member association uses funds allocated for specific projects to improve or build new football infrastructure for its direct benefit or for the benefit of another entity (e.g. regional associations or clubs), the member association shall also provide, as part of the supporting documents, the FIFA general secretariat with the relevant national land registry certificate or extract confirming that the member association or the other entity is the owner of the land or the agreements confirming the donation, transfer or other form of provision to, or use of land by the association.
When contacted for comment, local sports analyst, Jimmy George said; “Ours is more a lack of vision, than money to finance programs. Regrettably when you lack vision not even USD 8 million can bail you out. Its pity the funds might be used to pay for the past projects that have yielded very little success.”