While the impasse between the Botswana Football Association and the senior national team players persists and rages on, Bra Stan is the one bearing the brunt of the deadlock. Under pressure as he is to deliver, the current situation is not doing him any favours.
With just over three weeks to go before the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Central African Republic (CAR) and South Africa (SA), Bra Stan is still unsure whether his senior players, most of whom did duty at the recent AFCON finals will be available. The stand-off between the BFA and the players is over what the players, and most of the nation, feel is due to the players having qualified for the maiden AFCON Finals. Promises made to them have not been fulfilled and almost all of the 23 players who went to the Finals have snubbed Stan Tshosane’s calls to come to camp ahead of the qualifiers. Only fringe players and inexperienced youngsters made it for the camps. It seems like the players have ‘caucused’, if I may use that word, and come to an agreement that no one amongst them should honour any call-ups to camp until they are given what they feel is due to them. Since coming back from the 2012 AFCON Finals, Bra Stan has had numerous training camps. He had called up some of the senior players and some youngsters whom he had wanted to have a closer look at. None of the senior players showed up.
Well, someone might say justifiably so, and another person might say unreasonably so. Well it depends on how one views and dissects the whole situation of players’ bonuses. Although I am not for a total boycott of the National team and certainly not for making promises and not keeping them, I feel an amicable solution to the impasse should be found as soon as is possible. This is really starting to get embarrassing and is a major disappointment. Maybe it’s about time the powers that be got involved and tried to resolve the matter. Having talked to some of the players, I understand where they are coming from. They are sick and tired of empty promises and being thrown from pillar to post on issues pertaining to their welfare. Some are still bitter and angry that just a few weeks before the finals when they were asking for their dues, they were told to either ship out or shut up. Back then, the situation was different. Someone could just throw ultimatums at the players knowing that they won’t leave camp. He had bargaining power. They kept quiet and stomached the ‘abuse’ as they wanted to play at the AFCON finals that they had toiled to qualify for. Well its payback time now. This time around the players are calling the shots. They want what is due to them before coming to camp. After all, they have already achieved their dream of representing the country at the biggest football tournament in Africa and have nothing to lose.
Others have thrown in the patriotism card, but I for one feel that it does not hold any water. I get paid every month after toiling at my workplace and those players also need to get paid after toiling and representing their country. Patriotism has never and will never pay bills. One needs money to pay bills, and for one to pay bills, he has to get paid. After sweating and putting your body on the line, one deserves a reward, and in most cases that reward is money. I’m just wondering how we would expect the players to honour call-ups to camp while they are still owed from the last camps.
While all this is going on, Bra Stan is caught between a rock and a hard place. He needs the players, but understands where they are coming from, while on the other hand he cannot be seen to be working or speaking against his employers, being the BFA. I feel sorry for him. I had a chat with him last week and I could see the worry and uncertainty in his eyes. He is indeed a worried man and is not sure if he will have the players available for the upcoming games. He has a few weeks to go ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and his preparations have been nothing but disorganized because of the stand-off. He has not had even one training session with his senior players since returning from Equatorial Guinea/Gabon and he seems unsure of where all this is heading and when it will be resolved. The players have no problem whatsoever with Bra Stan and most of them have been in contact with him to explain themselves and why they are snubbing the call – ups. He is powerless to do anything about the situation. He cannot force or coerce players to come to camp, more so that they read that he is getting a cool P75 000 per month for his efforts while they are owed money that was due a long time ago. Stan needs the players to win games for him so he justifies that salary. He speaks worryingly about how his preparations have been affected by the stand-off and how it will affect his team’s performance in the upcoming games. Who would be to blame for that? The players? Bra Stan? The BFA? The BNSC? Me? You? You take your pick. But I’m pretty sure we all know by whose side the blame will rest.
One can only hope that the stalemate is resolved soon and the senior players come to camp. There is a camp scheduled for 20th May and I hope the matter will be resolved by then so that Stan can go ahead and prepare for CAR and SA, albeit a bit late. Right now we should be stressing about how we are going to win the two games and not about if we will have a competent team to play. It is not that I doubt the younger players who have been called to the National team, but they need some of the old guard to guide them and ease them into the rigors of doing national team duty.
Through all this, my deepest sympathy is for Bra Stan.