CAF’s $100 million Super League widens Club divide
The rich continue to get richer while the poor remain poor as CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe this week launched arguably the biggest competition in terms of financial rewards. The CAF Super league will feature 24 rich clubs from 16 countries. Already there is talk of the league further widening the gap between the rich and poor clubs. The fact is, most, if not all the clubs in the list of 24, are well resourced.
According to Dr Motsepe the total prize money of the CAF Africa Super League will be $100 million, with the winner receiving $11.5 million. He further said they will give each of the 24 clubs that will participate in the league $2.5 million which will be used to buy players and assist with transport logistics. The prize money also suggest that these 24 clubs will be strengthened so that they continue to dominate in their domestic leagues and in the continent.
Consequentially, clubs from countries whose leagues are still considered small or inferior will continue to play second fiddle to these selected power houses. For instance, just moments after the announcement of the $100 million exclusive club of the CAF Super league on Wednesday, Botswana’s last season Orange FA cup finalist Security Systems fell off the radar, announcing total withdrawal from the CAF Confederation Cup which is expected to start next month citing the financial challenges.
Whilst System’s decision borders on lack of foresight and preparedness, one cannot disregard the issue of finances and the isolation that small clubs are faced with when it comes to decisions like the CAF Super League.
Security Systems represents a plethora of other financially drained clubs who can only dream to be part of the exclusive clubs announced by Dr Motsepe. The underrepresented clubs will continue to be voiceless because there literally no one to speak on their behalf, hence Systems should await its fair share of a hefty fine from CAF, they will be punished for being poor.
On the other hand Gaborone United, crowned champions this past season, received a mere P1 million as prize money and they are expected to compete against teams that will deep their hands into a $100 million gold mine. Despite the good intentions and the apparent fighting spirit of the club financier, Nicolas Zakhem, odds are stuck against Gaborone United because the 2021/2022 BFL season campaign kicked started without a title sponsor as funds gleaned from broadcast sponsor, BTV and Absa bank were used to kick start the league. It remains to be seen how GU will cope against the money boys predominantly from North and West Africa.
The good news is that Gaborone United will remain Botswana’s flagbearer in Africa and were drawn against another DRC side, Association Sportive Vita in the preliminary round of the Total Energies CAF Champions League, making a return to the tournament after an 8 year hiatus.
The first leg is scheduled for the 9th-11th September weekend in Botswana while the 15 times Lina Foot league champions, AS Vita will have their home advantage in DRC a week later.
For their Security Systems were drawn against FC Saint Eloi Lupopo of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Alarm Boys as they known by their legion of fans became the second club to withdraw from this competition following Gaborone United and Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ decision to withdraw from the competition in 2015.
According to CAF rules and regulations, the withdrawal from the competitions by Security Systems attracts punitive punishment. The regulations stipulate that for withdrawing from the competition after the establishment of the fixtures, the team will be prohibited from participating in all CAF inter-clubs competitions for the next two editions.
It further indicates that in case of withdrawal of a team, its federation shall be responsible for the financial and other consequences to be determined by the Organising and Disciplinary Committee of CAF. Security Systems faces a $5000 (approximately P62 319) fine and a 2 year suspension from intercontinental football tournament participation from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Disciplinary Committee after their sudden withdrawal from CAF Confederations Cup.
In an interview with this publication, Security Systems Communications Manager Zolani Kraai explained that they pulled out of the competition because it is too expensive because of travel and logistical arrangements.
He further said part of CAF requirements is that clubs are expected to submit audited financial statements; they should also have development teams; and they were also expected to have a lease agreement of the stadium of their choice, which they believe was going to be costly and will take all their resources.
“It is disappointing to announce that we unfortunately won’t be participating in the CAF Confederations Cup due to financial constraints we find ourselves in,” Secretary General Billy Molebatsi told WeekendSport. He also mentioned that they are aware of the consequences of their decision as a club but they had no option but to withdraw.
Former Holy Ghost head coach Oupa Kowa, one of the renowned coaches here in Botswana, observed that some teams choose not to enter CAF Competitions after qualifying because of financial constraints. He said teams spend a lot of money in CAF assignments yet they get little financial help.
Meanwhile one Security System player who requested to be anonymous told this publication that they only learnt through social media reports that the club will not take part in the competition.
“It’s painful after so much work that we put in and be treated this way. We did not believe what we saw in the media because we knew we were going to DRC. There was excitement after the draw, we did not know that the club has decided against competing in the CAF Confederations Cup. I don’t think the club respects us as players,” he said.
Itâ€™s do or die for Zebras
The senior national team, the Zebras, is currently in Equatorial Guinea to for an African Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie. Before they departed, the team’s coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, had his troops train in Morocco. This was through the agreement between the two countries.
The agreement between the BFA and the FĂ©dĂ©ration Moroccan Football Association states that the two nations will work together to organize friendly matches between their respective national teams. It also allows the establishment of football camps for the youth categories (U-15, U-17, and U-20), this includes women’s national teams.
The national team has played over 180 minutes in its two qualifying matches against Tunisia and Libya. Currently, the Zebras, Lesotho and Liberia are the only teams that haven’t scored yet in the competition (this is correct by press time on Friday).
Before the match against Equatorial Guinea match, the local boys who were once known as the whipping boys of Africa in the early 2000s, were languishing at the bottom of the log standings in group J. They lost their first match away to Libya on June 1, 2022. However, they managed to salvage a point against Tunisia last year.
Before the team left for Equatorial Guinea, coach Mpote urged his players to focus on keeping their hopes of making a return trip to the AFCON finals alive after an 11 year absence since the maiden appearance in 2012. He noted that they would not allow their opponents to score and would ensure that they would get a draw.
Despite the various changes that have occurred in the two countries’ football landscape, the two teams have only met once before. In 2010, the local boys defeated the Equatorial Guinea team in a friendly match, which ended in an emphatic win for the visitors. Since then, the two sides have realised different fortunes in FIFA rankings, with Equatorial Guinea ranked 51 places above the Zebras.
Meanwhile, in their last six games, Guinea has only managed to win one of them. They drew with Rwanda and Togo in September 2022 friendlies. They have found the back of the net just twice in their six games. On the other hand, the Zebras, won one match against Zambia and lost four on their way to finishing at the bottom of the group with four points. At the conclusion of their previous AFCON campaign, the local boys traveled to Zambia and secured a draw.
Despite the recent results of the Guinean team, which have only managed to draw with Rwanda and Togo in their last six matches, coach Mpote is still confident that his team will perform well against the hosts.
According to the head coach, the local boys have the necessary skills and resources to perform well against any country. He noted that the team’s coaches have been studying abroad to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects of football.
“Tactically they should also be ready. We need your (Botswana fans) usual support, when we come back from Equatorial Guinea, we will go to Francistown, and we will need you. You are our 12th player, and you are very important to us.”
OBED ITANI CHILUME STADIUM CERTIFIED
This week, the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Tuelo Serufho revealed that the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium will host the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the local boys and Equatorial Guinea. The venue had initially failed an inspection test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). However, following the completion of the necessary works, the stadium was allowed to host the match.
According to BNSC Chief, Tuelo Serufho, the various requirements that the stadium must meet included having a designated parking area for the media and spectators, as well as having signage that will guide the spectators. He also noted that the venue now has a world-class media area.
Jagdish Shah rejects Rollers society
Township Rollers, one of the countryâ€™s most decorated football clubs with 15 premier league titles, is finding itself in a precarious situation as its long-term chief financier, Jagdish Shah, threatens to dump them if the society does not bow down to his demand of forfeiting their 20 percent interest in the company.
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Orange injects P350 000 into Phikwe marathon
Mobile network Orange Botswana is committed to supporting the development of local sport. Through its sponsorship, the company will be able to promote and market the sport. According to Maano Masisi, the company believes that sport can unite people from different backgrounds.
He stated that through the sponsorship of the marathon, the company will help promote healthy lifestyles and unity among the people of Selebi Phikwe.
The Selebi Phikwe Marathon is scheduled to take place on July 29, 2023. It is expected that it will attract international, regional, and social runners. A total of P216 000 has been allocated for the prize money for the first ten places in the 42.2 km race. For the 15km and 10km races, the LOC will give away prizes to the first five places.