The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has found itself in a state of confusion and disarray due to the constant chopping and changing of Zebras coaches. The recent firing of Mogomotsi Mpote, the fourth coach to be fired under President Maclean Letshwiti’s era, has raised eyebrows and led to questions about the rationale behind the decision. This confusion is particularly concerning as the team is preparing for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations finals and the 2026 World Cup qualification journey.
The Mpote dismissal, according to some in the football fraternity, indicates that the position of Zebras coach is apropos a sitting target, because they will always be used as a scapegoat when in fact the Football Association administration personnel and or leadership are the square peg in a round hole.
According to the BFA, Mpote was relieved of his duties due to an internal assessment and evaluation of the team’s performance. However, the timing of the decision and the upcoming important matches against Mozambique and Guinea have only added to the confusion surrounding the coaching change. It is unclear why the BFA would make such a decision just before crucial games that could determine the team’s future in these tournaments.
A statement from BFA reads; “Following an internal assessment and evaluation of where the Botswana senior men’s national football team is, the Zebras are currently not where we want them to be. The Botswana Football Association would like to announce that we have parted ways with Mogomotsi Mpote, the Zebras national team head coach.”
This confusion is further highlighted by the case of Adel Amrouche, who was fired in 2021 after failing to qualify the team for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Since his dismissal, Amrouche has gone on to guide Tanzania to the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations, which raises questions about whether the BFA made the right decision in letting him go or if they are simply confused about their coaching choices.
Reports suggest that Mpote’s termination may have been influenced by the association’s bid to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations. It is rumored that Mpote was instructed to assemble a younger squad for the tournament, which led to the exclusion of some senior players. However, Mpote’s resistance to this directive was seen as insubordination, leading to a strained relationship between him and the BFA executives.
Furthermore, Mpote was tasked with winning the COSAFA Cup, qualifying for the African Nations Championship (CHAN), and improving the country’s FIFA rankings. However, the recent poor performance of the Zebras, including their failure to qualify for the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations, made these goals seem unattainable, especially considering the directive to assemble a youthful squad.
“At one stage he was told that if he insists on bringing the older players the association was not going to arrange him some international friendly matches or avail some resources for the team camp, hence the relationship between the two was already sour and broken,” highly placed source revealed.
The constant chopping and changing of coaches reflects poorly on President Letshwiti and his administration. It is clear that the coaches are not the root cause of the team’s problems, and it is time for the BFA to reflect on their own administration and decision-making processes. The firing of Mpote was the final nail in the coffin, and it is evident that the results on the pitch are not improving despite the coaching changes.
Since Letshwiti took over as president in 2016, four coaches have been fired or not had their contracts renewed, setting a bad precedent for stability and direction within the Zebras team. The association has previously stated that results take time to materialize and that there are no shortcuts in football. However, their actions contradict these statements, as they continue to make hasty decisions without giving coaches enough time to implement their strategies and achieve results.
When reached for a comment surrounding the sacking of Mpote, local football analyst Jimmy George said, “The firing of coach Mpote was the final nail into coffin by President Maclean Letshwiti and his administration. You can’t be chopping and changing coaches for the Zebras whereas on the other side the results are not coming,”
“Perhaps maybe it’s high time he look himself into the mirror and introspect what’s is it that they are not doing right as the association as it clearly evident that the coaches are not the root cause of the problem maybe his administration. Coach Amrouche came here in 2019 and by 2021 he was already gone before the end of his contract and he was later appointed as Tanzanian head coach of which he guided the team to the AFCON 2023 which will be played next year in Ivory Coast,” he shared.
Four Zebras coaches has been fired since 2017
Meanwhile an investigation carried out by this publication has discovered that since President Letshwiti took over from Tebogo Sebego in 2016, four coaches have been fired or their contracts were not renewed upon expiry.
In 2017- British gaffer Peter Butler was the first coach to suffer the dismissal fate, at the time the Zebras was doing tremendously well and they had made the Obed Itani Chilume stadium a fortress. Following his departure, the late Major David Bright was roped in and he also failed to meet his targets and was ultimately shown door in 2019.
The late Major Bright was eventually succeeded by Amrouche in 2019 who also failed to meet the objectives which the association had assigned him. He was later released when his contract was about to elapse. However, this has left the nation’s football enthusiasts wondering about the stability and direction of the Zebras team.
It is time for the BFA to reflect on their own administration and decision-making processes, as it is clear that the coaches are not solely responsible for the team’s poor performance.
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.