Football enthusiasts up north will not have to travel all the way to the city next weekend to satisfy their AFCON lust. For the first time ever, the Botswana Football Association has decided to host a Zebras match in Francistown. The Zebras African Cup of Nations encounter against Burkina Faso is slated for next weekend at the newly built facility in the second city.
Previously, the senior national team games have been centred in Gaborone with other towns like Lobatse, Molepolole and Maun having gotten their share of the fame for hosting the Zebras games. Not only will history books be written for the residents of Francistown for hosting the national team, they will host them in an all important AFCON assignment against the tough West African Stallions of Burkina Faso.
“It is an opportunity for Francistowners to show us what they can do in hosting the national team, I think since people that side are hungry for football and BFA may just profit from that,” said football commentator Molatlhegi “Octopus” Mangole.
With some football amorous locations in the Spaghetti city like Kgaphamadi, Block 7, Area W and surrounding villages already abuzz with the hype that their stars will be landing next week, one can safely say football lovers in that area would try by all means to convince Tebogo Sebego and company to consider them more in the future.
Another interesting factor with this development is the fact that it will be the first official game to be hosted in the 26,000 capacity stadium located along the A3 road. This has cultivated much euphoria from the soccer fans as they want the stadium to turn into the slaughterhouse just like what happened in 2010/11 when Zebras was untouchable at the UB Stadium.
“Who knows we may just draw blessings from the stadium and use it as our slaughter zone,” Mangole added. Another football pundit Monty Gagomokgwa shared Mangole’s sentiments saying “it is a new stadium and it will be nice if we can launch by winning then we take it from there.” Other countries like Egypt, South-Africa and Zambia just to mention a few have in the past ear-marked some stadiums as their slay grounds.
The stadium, which has some Football fans advocating for it to be named after any of the City legends like Mmoloki “BB” Sechele, Hero Matenge and or Jomo “Nobody” Mosweu has been certified by CAF thus declared ready for next weekend’s clash. For his part, Francistown Football Association (FRAFA) Chairperson Jonas “Msomi” Ikgopoleng said the association is busy with the preparations for the historic event.
“The event will be conducted mostly by the locals and for now we are busy training them on how to stage a successful event because if we fail we would have slapped ourselves on the face.” Other stakeholders like the city council under the stewardship of Silvia Tabitha Muzila are also playing their part to make the event successful.
The decision by BFA is also hailed as it will encourage sport tourism which is un-popular in the country. “People will be encouraged to travel to watch their team and if you look at Francistown there are hotels and other facilities which can cater for tourists/visitors who may swarm the city,” RB2 analyst Mangole stated. The visiting team Burkina Faso are reported to have been notified on the venue but were yet to respond.
Currently there is no elite team at Ghetto as all of them are in the First division while others are in the lower divisions. Today (Saturday) evening Tasc will be playing Tafic to test the stadia ahead of the big game.
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.