Pregnant dark clouds rolled over the Gaborone skies on a day, which had started with the usual Monday blues. The first drops of rain this season were to touch down later in the afternoon and so did the news of Stanley Tshosane's firing.
This was exactly a week after South African referee, Lwandile Mfiki gave the coach a red card during the Burkina Faso friendly. It was as if the Botswana Football Association (BFA), which was under pressure more than Mfiki to dismiss the history-making coach took the cue from the referee albeit seven days later.
On a dramatic Monday, the BFA president, Tebogo Sebego, and his chief executive officer, Keith Masters gave contradicting statements regarding the dismissal, which stirred endless discussions.
Sebego denied the sacking in various media interviews while Masters confirmed the move, even disclosing that the coach will receive three months' salary as his exit package.
Tshosane has been skating on thin ice since Sebego took charge in July 2012. He was told that his services were no longer required but clung on, largely emboldened by the belief that the association has to pay him the remainder of his contract if he was fired.
However, this week the BFA appeared galvanised after including the previously absent deliverables in the mix. Tshosane's contract did not include an exit package or deliverables. The BFA claims it is not required to pay the coach more than six months' salary and therefore settled on three months. With Tshosane earning a reported P70,000 a month, it means his exit package will be around P210,000 plus gratuity, a significant cut from the expected P1.5 million plus if the coach had his way.
Sebego says Tshosane had been briefed several times before his firing on Monday.
"I don't think it was a bombshell. We have discussed issues of performance before but we did not seem to find common ground," Sebego told a press briefing in Gaborone yesterday.
After the dismissal, a protracted labour dispute is in the offing. Tshosane might be down but not out. He is sure to rise and take the fight to the BFA, particularly over the 'thank you' package.
Tshosane had been at the helm for exactly five years and two months when his reign came to an abrupt, but not unexpected end.
He succeeded Briton Colywn Rowe in August 2008, albeit as a caretaker coach. His record did not immediately inspire the nation after he finished the combined 2010 AFCON and World Cup campaign with dismal statistics of one win, one draw and three losses.
In November 2009, Tshosane was handed the full reigns and had a moderate year in which he reached the semi-finals of the regional COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup. But his credentials soared to unprecedented heights in the qualifiers for the 2012 AFCON where he made history.
Against high odds, he masterminded the Zebras first ever qualification for AFCON with an unbeaten record to boot in a campaign highlighted by two victories against formidable former African champions, Tunisia. Five wins in six games made sure that the Zebras topped their group ahead of the fancied North African giants. The good run started in 2010 when the Zebras finished the year unbeaten in all competitions including friendly matches. His mean defence did not concede a goal in all friendly matches, while letting in only two in the qualifiers. It came as no surprise when the Zebras were voted the best team in 2011. In 2011, he seamlessly booked a place in the 2012 AFCON finals with an impressive away 1-0 win over Chad in Nd'jamena. He was immediately bestowed the Presidential Order of Merit by President Ian Khama for his achievements with the national team.
However, things went downhill after the Chad win. He finished 2011 with just one win in competitive matches while 2012 started badly with three defeats as the Zebras made their debut at the finals. The year closed without a single victory in official matches and the trend continued in 2013. The writing was clearly on the wall, but BFA was initially reluctant to get rid of the coach.
"We wanted to address other issues affecting the team first as there are other factors to be considered before firing a coach," Sebego said.
Tshosane should have quit after the 2012 AFCON finals before he acquired visible blemishes. He had the perfect opportunity to leave with his record intact, but it has now been soiled by a poor run since Equatorial Guinea and Gabon 2012.
Tshosane reportedly had job offers in South Africa, but turned them down as the Zebras' job seemed secure with a three-year deal. It is said he favoured the Zebras job as he would be closer to his family and the package was equally good.