After some turmoil, with most senior players not reporting to camp because of an impasse over bonuses, sanity has finally prevailed. The players got something and they have returned back to camp to prepare for the games against CAR and RSA. Albeit a bit late, we expect the Zebras to put up a good showing. The players need to show us that it was not a fluke to qualify for the 2012 AFCON Finals. All eyes are on us now. By qualifying for the AFCON final, we have brought attention on ourselves and now everyone sits up when they hear the name, Zebras. We are no longer underdogs and the whipping boys of Africa and everyone is aware that on our day, we can beat any side, ask the likes of Tunisia, Togo and Malawi. The backbone of the team that did duty in the last qualifiers remains and one cannot be blamed for expecting positive results.
With all that being said, the man who is under the most pressure is National team coach Colonel Stanley Hunter Tshosane. A few months back The Botswana Football Association and the national team coach Tshosane finally signed a contract after protracted talks. Now is the time for all to dig in and move towards getting the Zebras ready for the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2013 AFCON finals.
Tshosane made the news when he signed a mega P75 000 a month deal, with the mandate of getting us qualify for the 2013 AFCON Finals and the 2014 World Cup. When Tshosane was appointed as head coach the first time around, he did not know what he was getting himself into. He was the underdog then and did not have anything to prove to anyone, moreso that many had written him off as out of his depth and as a 'chancer' who would not get us anywhere. He went on to prove us wrong. Tshosane knows where he stands with most Batswana and appreciates that there will always be those who are for him and those who are not for him. I am one of those who believed that he has run his race after the AFCON Finals. I for one thought he would quit while he is ahead and regarded as a folklore hero, but from the conversation I had with him recently, he feels he still has a lot to offer and wants to eclipse what he has already achieved.
This time around, Tshosane knows what he is getting himself into. He knows the different characters and system he has signed to work in. That means he is well aware of the challenges and the pitfalls that lie ahead and he should not use those as an excuse a few months down the line. Surely if he had some reservations about how things are being done and did not feel he could work under such conditions he would not have renewed the contract. Tshosane is well aware that the BFA is broke and sometimes officers at Lekidi sleep on the job ad even forget to book a flight for the team to travel to honour a fixture. He is well aware that he might not have the services of some of the senior players he has been working with as they have made themselves unavailable. He is well aware that the morale of players is in most cases low because of their somewhat neglected welfare. All these mean that Tshosane should not use these as an excuse going forward. Not that he cannot refer to them, but he signed knowing fully well that they will at some point come to the fore.
Tshosane proved most Batswana who had dismissed him wrong when he was first appointed; me included. For what he achieved with the national team in the last three years, Tshosane definitely deserved a new and more attractive contract. I could not care less how much he earns, but I’m happy that the Association and Tshosane agreed on a new contract after a lot of dilly dallying. All I care about and want as a football loving Motswana is results, starting with wins against minnows Central African Republic and has beens Bafana Bafana in the next two weeks. These are teams we should beat easily. After all we qualified for the last AFCON finals, while the other teams in the group did not. I don’t think I will be way off the mark if I say we are slight favourites. The somewhat shoddy preparations will however not help. The situation was exacerbated by the latest goof-up, where the team had to endure a harsh few days holed up in a hotel in Turkey after the postponement of the Iraq friendly match.
Although he appreciates that he is somewhat under pressure, Tshosane has vowed to take each game as it comes. For that small fortune he reportedly earns every month, we expect positive results. Now is the time for players and Stan to show us that their qualification for the 2012 AFCON Finals was no fluke. We all saw what winning can bring the nation together and how I long for that feeling again. To Bra Stan and the Boys, we are behind you all the way, all the best in your upcoming games against CAR and RSA. DO US PROUD.