In a country battling the spread of corona virus from all angles, the football fraternity in Botswana is however, nearing cross roads. Indications are that the popular sport might not return anytime soon given the high standards of health guidelines the game has to satisfy.
Since the beginning of last week, health officials, Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Footballer’s Union of Botswana are engaging in protracted deliberations of kick- starting the football leagues around the country.
The game has gone into lockdown since early March as the country went into curfew to curb the spread of the pandemic. However, this week administrators of the game have needed to outline their plans for the future, and its proven easier said than done.
Conditions in Botswana and by extension Africa are peculiar. Teams, prior to the spread of the virus, were struggling to make ends meet and given the expectations facing them, it is highly unlikely that the game will return soon.
Sources highlight that, as part of the preparatory guidelines, clubs are anticipated to conduct tests for their players, a task too difficult to execute.
Public health authorities world-wide have been concerned that given the players’ direct contact with each other and the close interactions with the general public, in addition to their regular travels, they have been super accelerators of the virus.
In the eyes of health authorities, part of the impetus for testing players is that they are quick spreaders who unknowingly spread to people.
However, BFA and other state holders are mindful of the scarcity of corona virus testing equipment in the country. They believe that this will need government buy-in as priority is given to those who came from highly infected areas and those showing symptoms.
Clubs are also expected to use two sets of similar kits for the entire 90 minutes of the game. One kit for the first half and the other in the second stanza. As things stand, no team in the elite league can manage the situation. As if it is not enough, players are expected to stay in one place until the league comes to an end.
Botswana clubs have failed dismally to cater for players who are in camp and the looming expectation from health specialists is too much to bear. Before lockdown, there were 10 games left to play. The Union’s Secretary General, Kgosana Masaseng says their input is dependent on the advice of health professionals.
“We are in the process of sharing notes with the association and health authorities, but bear in mind that our contribution will also be guided by what health authorities want,” he shared. It is said that BFA is looking at three options currently on its table. Each decision is informed by facts and scenarios and one is independent on the other.
The first option, BFA says is to stop the league where it is and crown the team that occupies the first place, which is Jwaneng Galaxy. Furthermore, three teams lying in the bottom of the table will be relegated and teams on pole positions from Debswana First Division north and south will be promoted.
By all accounts, the association feels it is a controversial option to undertake but also equitable for the sake of progress. The second available possibility is to stretch the season and consequently change the football calendar.
“There has been a shelved proposal that recommends the change of our season from the usual August-May calendar to February- November because of health reasons,” BFA President MacLean Letshwiti said.
This therefore means that football might have to wait until the end of state of emergency and later be stretched to the February-November calendar. This football season was considered also because of adverse hot conditions unfavourable to the playing conditions in Botswana.
As things stand, a country like Zambia has kept CAF posted that they are likely to return to this football calendar after the virus subsides.
The last possibility is to nullify all the leagues. This was – and continues to be – the last resort. Across all the global leagues, the domestic campaign has only 10 matches left, which could, in theory, be completed in a space of five weeks.
Given that backdrop, why would anyone – ulterior motives accepted – want to get rid of the work put in over the previous seven months and pretend it never happened? It is a question BFA should ask themselves as they ponder on the future.
Township Rollers Head Coach, Nikola Kavazovic, has left a note on management’s table addressing the futures of Galabgwe Moyana and Lemponye Tshireletso. The duo had their stay at the club in the spotlight as debate over refreshing the squad raged on.
It is reported that Kavazovic had scheduled talks with the attacking midfielders as he seeks to convince them to stay for one more season at the club. The gaffer wants to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware one more time.
Moyana had already offered himself to premier league rookies, Masitaoka Football Club.However, Rollers has other experienced players and the expectation is that many titles will still be won.
However, the club has made it known that it wants to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, at the very least.It is in this regard that Kavazovic will wants Moyana and Tshireletso to stay.
He hopes their injury nightmares will be arrested hence they could take leading roles to stir the Rollers ship to victory again.More often than not during the last season, their absence left Rollers struggling.But they too, could struggle to return to full fitness missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of Roller veterans in skipper Maano Ditshupo and Ofentse Nato.
But the team’s insistence and promise to make a loud impact in the coming season is still awaiting confirmation. The duo in particular will have to stand strong otherwise the ambition mirrors a tomorrow that will never come.
Engendered into the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club and true to that testament, both have played a pivotal role for Rollers to win more silverware.
The talent of the duo, after reuniting with Kavazovic, should make the case for Rollers to once again make headline impact, particularly in the CAF competition starting next year January. Kavazovic agrees that as a unit they could find an edge as clubs are preparing for a return to the field.
Away from the Rollers stage, both players have won many titles with Mochudi Centre Chiefs and are still loved by their followers.When reached for comment, Rollers media liaison officer, Phempheretlhe Pheto, said there are in fact four players who were supposed to leave the club.
He said all will be decided after talks are completed as each player will face the management about the way forward.“It is not only the two guys, they are about four players whose contracts have expired but each one of them is expected to negotiate with management. Their future will be determined by the outcome of the talks,” he said.
The other two players are Kaone van der Westhuizen who is playing as a left back as well as Bogosi Nfila who was signed to bring goals.
Botswana international defender, Lesenya Ramoraka’s situation at TS Galaxy has been explained by his agent Tumi Gabonamong.
The 26 year old defender found himself in a tight situation after his club; Highlands Park’s status was bought by renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy.
The sudden changes meant that some players were to be released by the team to accommodate new recruitments and changes at the club. As the club status was acquired, Ramoraka’s contract at Highlands was left with a year and the club opted to keep him despite spending much time on the side-lines due to injuries.
According to Gabonamong the lanky left back is part of the new TS Galaxy team although he was not included in the team list for this season. As per information gathered, Ramoroka will only be registered with the team in the next transfer window slated for January.
“He is very much still part of the team. He is currently nursing an injury he sustained during the bubble games. He will of course start training end of November or beginning of December. They’ll only register him in the next transfer period, he’s part of the team,” said Gabonamong.
Ramoraka has proven himself since joining the team in 2018 from Orapa United. Lee as Ramoraka is known in football circles has so far played 29 games for the team, netting only once.
“Ramoraka is one of the players that survived the changes at the team, remember the team doesn’t have many left backs and he is a quality player having so far cemented a place in the starting line-up. I believe after his injury he will fight for a place as usual.
That is why the team kept him therefore people shouldn’t worry that he is not registered this season.There is no need to register a player when you know he will be out for some time. It is only advisable for you to offer him more playing time more especially that he is a foreigner this side.
Again, his injury is healing and he will come back sooner than later. The aim is to keep him this side even when he might not renew his contract but chances are he will be with the team for some time because they have shown much value on him,” explained the wife of former Zebras midfielder, Mogogi Gabonamong
RECONCILED? Former Zebras Coach tshosane and former BFA President Sebego
In the build up to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee elections, former Senior National Team Coach, Stanley Tshosane had threatened to sue presidential aspirant, Tebogo Sebego, after the latter made suggestions on national radio that the performance of the national team was appalling during the former’s tenure.
Tshosane, who claimed reputational damage, said a number allegations made by Sebego were baseless and unfounded. Sources say Tshosane was livid that Sebego tarnished his reputation and integrity when he deposited averments on national broadcasters to the effect that the national team performance had reached its lowest ebb before the appointment of Brighton Peter Butler.
The Englishman came to supplant Tshosane just a year after The Zebras returned from their maiden African Cup of Nations edition of 2012.Tshosane was therefore ready to draw first blood and demanded retraction, further threatening a legal route in the event Sebego did not act as prescribed.
According to sources close the developments, Sebego however demonstrated leadership qualities and apologized, letting bygones be bygones. Sources say the former BFA administrators have smoked a peace pipe especially that Sebego’s ambition of becoming president disappeared a fortnight ago when he lost again to MacLean Letshwiti in a tightly contested election.
The animosity between Tshosane and Sebego first played out in 2013 when Sebego’s administration sacked the former coach, giving one simple explanation that he was failing to inspire the collective belief within the national squad.
It is said that Tshosane never forgave the past administration for firing him especially that he was on sick leave at the time the letter was delivered to him by the then Chief Executive Officer, Keith Masters. Tshosane was fresh from penning a new deal when he was terminated. At the time he sought legal redress claiming prejudice.
It is not yet clear if Tshosane and the BFA administration have ironed out their differences. When his situation grew precarious in 2013, he felt he was sabotaged by the people he trusted.But sources say the Jackalas number 1 born coach now enjoys a healthy relationship with the association and that is why there is talk suggesting his possible return.
Tshosane was not available for comment as his phone rang unanswered while Sebego refused altogether to share details saying; “I cannot respond to allegations, I mean we need to be respected, this is just senseless.”
Stan, who is now over 60 years, was first appointed to the position of Botswana Senior National Team Coach in 2008, following a short spell as caretaker coach. In 2012, he led the Zebras to their first appearance in AFCON 2012 co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
A year later, in October, after BFA new leadership assumed power and he was sacked for failing to re-write his 2012 success football story. Critics then suggested he was only offered the job because the football association could not afford to hire a better reputable “name’’.
Stan had previously been assistant to the Serbian mentor, Veselin Jelušić, as well as English manager, Colwyn Rowe, for the national team.
Whilst working as an assistant for the national team, he had also been manager of the Botswana Defence Force XI (BDF XI) for a lengthy spell. Stan had also played for BDF XI in his glory days as a football player.