In a country that places sport at the bottom of its priorities, Botswana Senior national teams dream of qualifying to the 33rd edition of the African prestigious tournament was a misconception right from the beginning.
With Adel Amrouche, recruited and paid a staggering P 250 000 to embody the future of the Zebras squad, his buoyance and pragmatic style of coaching appeared to confuse different ideologies of the game.
Botswanas elite league has been in chains for over a year now. Players fitness, without doubt took a nose dive because majority of them had never kicked the ball in a competitive game. Dangling bigger carrots by the Government of Botswana at a very crucial stage was never going to help the situation.
These stories of a disjointed association and league point rather wearily to the basic obstacle on Botswanas own path to Cameroon games. A Premier League that refused to restart the games and many published Government Gazette that closed out sport have edged Botswanas national team concerns to the fringes. Players are not allowed to play at club level but are expected to kick the ball and win on the international stage.
Football for a very long time has been feeding from crumps. There is no clear budget for sport and even 11th hour incentives cannot help turn the corner, only thorough preparations can.
For far too long, Botswana has become a little more than a spectator in an African Cup of Nations qualifying race. The future of this footballing nation now mirrors a tomorrow that may never come. It does not come by fluke like many aspects of life, even in football, there are no short cuts. There is no easy way to the top. It tells a story that we are jumbling preparations of the game, no wonder we could not juggle the ball better than Zimbabwe.
But all these things come from afar. When Amrouche was employed, like many of his predecessors, he was asked to take the team to AFCON finals, but this never materialized because there is no clear road map. Some of the stories are of course his own doing. The reported fall out he had with some players and members of the technical team meant that he earned himself many enemies.
Many loved his tough nosed approach to disciplinary issues. When he came in he put his foot on the ground and immediately suspended about four players for disobeying his laid down camp rules.
Amrouche is not a man who trusts easily. He fired almost everyone he feels sabotaged him. He ultimately surrounded himself with few faces new to the game. Unfortunately, it turned out that he was doing it too much running the show all by himself.
His prize tag was justifiable enough to qualify the team to the African show piece but little did he know that he had many enemies who prayed day and night that he does not make it.
Statistically, his coaching resume in the country does not inspire confidence. He played a total of 8 games. He won 1 game and lost 5, the other two games ended in a stalemate. This is from a man who smiles all the way to the bank to withdraw P250 000 every month.
With Amrouche, Botswana was expected to take some pride from Cape Verde of 2010 and Madagascar of 2019; they cant just leave with crossed arms, and so followers thought this was going to be a one-on-one match.
But as fate finally proved it, Botswana is not organized in doing their things, no wonder their success, both in the region and the continent is not highly merited. A coach given blank administration duties slowly became a rolling stone.
He is allowed to recruit players and negotiate contracts for them with oversea clubs. While some see it as a good gesture, to others is a direct conflict of interest. It means players would not be picked on merit, but in line of favouritism. This explains why Tshepo Maikano, the Zebras trusted right back, was benched because he had a fallout with the coach mid-way through the preparations. He was replaced with Gape Gaogane who was being trialled in the position.
This is the reason players like Kobamelo Kebaikanye played the entire game simply because he is in good books with the coach.
Without doubt, and by his own admission, Amrouche has failed. He has sabotaged the country and he too has been sabotaged.
Striker Teenage Orebonye and midfielder Kabelo Seakanyeng could have played the Zimbabwe affair, but it turns out that some within the federation sit until the last hour to process their visas, consequently spoiling Amrouches plans.
These are the two players Amrouche personally ensured that they play in oversea games but he now knows that AFCON 2021 failure cannot be accepted.
Ditlhokwe must avoid smugness at Amakhosi
Kaizer Chiefs, one of South Africa’s biggest football clubs, has been facing a coaching crisis. In the midst of this turmoil, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, a local hard-tackling defender, has quickly become an integral member of the squad. However, despite his impressive performances, Ditlhokwe must avoid complacency and continue to work hard to secure his place in the star-studded team. TSHEPO KEHIMILE explores the potential impact of Chiefs’ frequent changes in coaching staff on Ditlhokwe and emphasize the need for him to maintain his high level of performance.
Ditlhokwe’s Rise to Prominence:
Ditlhokwe’s journey in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) began when he joined Supersport United on a three-year deal from Township Rollers. His talent and dedication quickly caught the attention of the technical team, and he became a trusted member of the squad. In January 2023, he signed a five-year contract with Kaizer Chiefs, one of the biggest clubs in South African football. His performances during pre-season matches against Young African and Township Rollers showcased his potential and promised a bright future at Amakhosi.
The Acid Test:
As the season progressed, Ditlhokwe faced several challenges. His first test came against Chippa United, where he and his defensive partner, Given Msimango, managed to keep a clean sheet in a goalless draw. However, miscommunication between the defense and goalkeeper Riyaard Pieterse led to a 2-1 defeat against Mamelodi Sundowns. Despite this setback, Ditlhokwe and Msimango redeemed themselves in subsequent matches, guiding Chiefs to a 3-0 victory against TS Galaxy and a 2-0 win against Stellenbosch.
The Impact of Coaching Changes:
Chiefs’ frequent changes in coaching staff can potentially affect Ditlhokwe’s performance and place in the team. The departure of Coach Molefi Ntseki, who had shown faith in Ditlhokwe, raised questions about whether the new coach would retain him as a regular starter. The arrival of Cavin Johnson as the interim coach saw Ditlhokwe maintain his place in the starting lineup, but the team continued to struggle defensively, conceding goals in matches against Golden Arrows and Cape Town City.
The Need for Consistency:
Ditlhokwe’s consistent presence in the starting lineup is commendable, but he must not become complacent. As competition for accolades and starting positions intensifies, he needs to work even harder to improve the team’s defensive record. Chiefs’ recent signing of his former Supersport United teammate adds further competition for the starting berth, making it crucial for Ditlhokwe to maintain his high level of performance.
Thatayaone Ditlhokwe’s journey at Kaizer Chiefs has been impressive, with his consistent performances earning him a regular place in the starting lineup. However, he must avoid complacency and continue to work hard to improve the team’s defensive record. The frequent changes in coaching staff at Chiefs add an element of uncertainty, making it essential for Ditlhokwe to prove himself to each new coach. By remaining focused and dedicated, Ditlhokwe can solidify his position in the team and contribute to the success of Amakhosi.
BOBA battles turbulences to prime Boxing
The Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA) recently organized a successful Boxing National Championships, sponsored by Maun Quarries and Tau Grading, with a generous amount of P100,000. This financial support is a welcome development for the boxing fraternity, as it has been almost a decade since such a windfall was received. The championships showcased the incredible skills of boxers like Mmusi Tswiigi, who achieved a remarkable victory by Referee Stop Contest (RSC). However, despite this success, BOBA acknowledges the need to improve and participate in international competitions to increase the chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics.
National Championships Success:
The Boxing National Championships witnessed outstanding performances from various boxers. Mmusi Tswiigi’s victory by RSC highlighted his exceptional skills and determination. Other notable performers included Rajab Mahommed, Maxwell Sechi, Thabang Chakalisa, Kerapetse Segole, Joel Kgogobi, Botshelo Thomologo, Otsile Mogobye, Mompoloki Sebula, Kenaope Boifang, Solomon Motshwarakgole, Keamogetse Kenosi, and Tshephang Moilwa. These boxers demonstrated their talent and dedication, bringing pride to the nation.
The Road to the Olympics:
Despite the success at the National Championships, BOBA Secretary General, Taolo Tlouetsile, acknowledges that more needs to be done to secure a spot at the Paris Olympics. Tlouetsile emphasizes the importance of international exposure for local boxers to gauge their readiness for such competitions. He recognizes that the opponents in international competitions are more active and challenging, making it crucial for local boxers to participate in various international events.
The local pugilists faced difficulties during the Paris 2024 Boxing Africa Qualifiers held in Senegal. Most of the boxers were eliminated in the preliminary rounds, with only Keamogetse Kenosi making it to the quarterfinals. The lack of preparation due to financial constraints hindered their performance. The absence of training camps and exposure to international competitions affected their readiness and ability to compete at the highest level.
To secure a place at the Paris Olympics, local boxers must now focus on the upcoming qualification tournaments. The 1st World Qualification Tournament is scheduled to take place in Busto Arsizio, Italy, from 29 February to 12 March 2024, followed by the 2nd World Qualification Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, from 23 May to 3 June 2024. These tournaments provide another opportunity for local boxers to showcase their skills and qualify for the Olympics.
The Way Forward:
BOBA National Team Coach, Thebe Setlalekgosi, acknowledges the talent of the boxers but highlights the financial constraints that have hindered their progress. Setlalekgosi emphasizes the need for proper training camps to prepare the team adequately. He expresses his disappointment at missing the International Boxing Association (IBA) Junior World Championships, which could have served as valuable preparation for future boxers. Setlalekgosi proposes a training camp from the first week of December until February to ensure the team is in top shape for the upcoming qualifiers.
The recent success of the Boxing National Championships sponsored by Maun Quarries and Tau Grading is a positive step for BOBA. However, the association recognizes the need for international exposure and participation to improve the chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics. Financial constraints have been a significant challenge, affecting the preparation and performance of local boxers. With upcoming qualification tournaments, it is crucial for BOBA to prioritize training camps and international competitions to give their boxers the best chance at success. By addressing these challenges, BOBA can pave the way for a brighter future in boxing and bring glory to Botswana on the Olympic stage.
Mares 90 minutes WAFCON qualification
Crunch time has arrived for the Mares, the women’s senior national team of Botswana, as they face a crucial encounter against Kenya, also known as the Harambee Starlets.
This match will determine their qualification for the WAFCON 2024 tournament, and the fate of the Mares hangs in the balance. Under the guidance of their new coach, Alex Malete, the team carries a slight advantage with an away goal from the first leg.
Adding to their confidence, the Mares received a major boost with the inclusion of newly appointed Zebras head coach, Didier Gomes Da Rosa, in their technical team. Da Rosa’s appointment as the Director of Football for all national teams, including the women’s team, shows the commitment of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to support the growth and development of women’s football in the country.
The history between these two teams is not extensive, with only two previous encounters. The last match took place in 2015 during the 2016 Olympic qualifiers. The Mares won the first leg 2-1 but lost the second leg 1-0, resulting in the Harambee Starlets advancing to the next round based on aggregate score.
Both teams have their sights set on making their second appearance in the WAFCON tournament. The Harambee Starlets made their debut in the 2016 edition held in Cameroon, and now they aim to secure their next appearance. Similarly, the Mares are eager to make their mark and showcase their progress since their last participation.
In the first leg of this crucial tie, the Mares faced early attacks from the home side but found their rhythm midway through the first half. Keitumetse Dithebe, an attacker from Gaborone United, broke the deadlock with a goal in the 37th minute. However, the Harambee Starlets quickly responded with a penalty kick just before halftime, leveling the score. The second half saw sustained attacks from the Kenyan side, but the Mares held firm at the back, ensuring the match ended in a stalemate.
The Mares can rely on the experience and skill of players like Refilwe Tholakele and Sedilame Bosija, who recently won the CAF Women’s Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns. Tholakele, awarded the Golden Boot, played a pivotal role in her team’s historic triumph, scoring two goals in the final. Her success highlights the significance of her contribution to the Mares’ campaign.
As the Mares head into this crucial clash, they must draw on their collective strength and determination. The opportunity to qualify for WAFCON 2024 is within their grasp, and they must seize it. With the support of their coach, the inclusion of Da Rosa in the technical team, and the talent of their players, the Mares have the potential to rewrite their own history and make a lasting impact on women’s football in Botswana.