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Same Zebras, familiar foes

Botswana once again is expected to be a spectator in a marvellous race after drawing North Africa powerhouses; Tunisia and Lybia in the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 draw held this week.

The group (J) also has 2012 AFCON co-hosts, Equatorial Guinea, as countries begin the journey for the showpiece to be hosted by the Ivory Coast.However, Botswanas Zebras will be on a mission to record impressive victories when they travel up north to try and take the bull by the horns in Libya in the cold month of June.

As the Zebras prepare for the second game against Tunisia in home soil, the contrast with the squads buoyancy could not be starker. This will be a wonderful, hard-earned moment of sporting grace for a nation still riddled by economic instability brought about by COVID-19 pandemic. Football activities were suspended for almost two years as a result, creating fitness concerns for national team players.

The Zebras should not be haunted by their failure to tame Tunisia in the yesteryears. They have done that before during the 2012 qualifiers where the Zebras beatThe Catharage Eagleshome and away.

Tunisia is dangerous and has been qualifying for all the AFCON showpieces.Unlike the Zebras, they have been playing well and look solid in all departments. However, the relaxed coach seems to be Teenage Mpote after inheriting an almost depleted squad. There have been glimpses of excellence in a team that has looked energized, dominating the COSAFA region.

In all fairness, it does not look good for the Zebras, as all the opponents pose a threat and have a wealth of experience of the qualifying phase.Lybiais on a revolution and many had hope that one of the most successful sides in Northern African football would now be at the top of book makers, but it seems to them that even in football, there is no easy way to the top.

Interestingly, the three teams have played each other in the qualifying campaign for the 2021 finals.It was The Mediterranean Knights who finished bottom of their group as they failed to reach the 2021 tournament in Cameroon, with Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea clinching the top two places.

All the while, Botswana is still expected to take some pride from Cape Verde of 2010 and Madagascar of 2019; they cant just leave with crossed arms, and so followers should not think these are going to be a very one-on-one matches. Quite a number of Arabic sides are seen to be organized in doing their things, no wonder their success, both in Africa and the world, is merited. And Botswana as a country should not be far off the mark as well.

However, in reality, the Botswana side, whose only appearance at the AFCON finals came 10 years back, has never proved to be a dangerous opponent whenever it faced far much better teams. Of late, they have been town talk of recruiting junior players to the squad, while the dream to co-host the 2027 edition of AFCON remains alive.

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Finally, sponsors jerk BFA

30th January 2023

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.

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Clubs petition Zackhem, Jagdish Shah

23rd January 2023

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.

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P80 million windfall for BFA

9th January 2023

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.”

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