After a glorious period, which saw the Zebras qualify for the first ever Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2012, it has been more of a hit and miss since then.
After Stanley Tshosane, came Peter Butler, and then David Bright, but a second appearance at the AFCON has proved elusive. It has not been all gloom and doom, after the Zebras reached the finals of the COSAFA Cup twice in the last three years. But the Zebras have remained lightweights on the continent, failing to repeat the 2012 heroics.
A tough AFCON group with holders Algeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe awaits the Zebras. On Saturday, Malawi is the opponent in the World Cup qualifiers. The impact of a Zebras win was felt during the Jelusic Veselin and Tshosane era. It proved the effect of football, even on the economy, as several sectors benefitted downstream.
Thousands of fans would attend the matches, with particularly the small businesses benefitting on match day and beyond. But it has gone down hill, barring a brief period, when the Zebras turn the Francistown Sports Complex into a fortress during Peter Butler’s era. A record 26,262 fans attended the Mali match in 2015, as the Zebras threatened a rejuvenation.
But there has not been much headway, as the Zebras battle to re-take their seat at the top of Africa’s football table. Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote was given a run on temporary basis, but while he acquitted himself well, the cutting
In has come Belgian, Adel Amrouche, who carries an impressive CV, having had coaching jobs in Burundi, DRC, Kenya and Libya. He is vastly experienced and has been lauded for opening new markets for players in European markets, even if it is in the lower leagues.
Botswana has largely been an exporter of talent to the South African league, but Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Maclean Letshwiti made it clear to Amrouche that the preferred destination is Europe. If Amrouche manages to open avenues for players in Europe, that will vastly improve the fortunes of the national team, as well as improve livelihoods. Football is one area where sustainable employment can be created.
While the BFA has laid down the gauntlet for Amrouche, we call upon the football association to afford the new coach all the support he needs. It will be easier to trace blame when something goes amiss, if all stakeholders play their roles. Coaches usually become sacrificial lambs even if most of the fingers point elsewhere.
Tshosane, Butler and Bright all, at some stage, complained about lack of support from the BFA. We hope these lingering concerns are behind us to afford the coach and the players to focus on the critical aspect.