When the Zebras cantered to a famous 2-1 win over Mali last week Saturday, the nation was overwhelmed with joy. The sight at the new Francistown Sports Complex aptly summed what the beautiful game should represent.
A whole nation, with 26,662 representatives cramming the stadium, was united in joy.
The moment proved the power of football in bringing together people from across sections. New heroes had been born as Peter Butler’s charges struck sweet revenge on a team that had proved to be a bogey side over the years.
The newly found belief was immense and torched the terraces as the fans bellowed raucously as they cheered the team to victory.
There was an overwhelming belief that indeed Butler’s project was finely morphing as he attempts to bury a poor run that had brought out Doubting Thomases. He made it three wins in a row as Francistown has proved to be a fertile hunting ground for the Zebras. Butler took charge at a time when the Zebras were experiencing a slump soon after their maiden Africa Cup of Nations appearance in 2012.
As he stitched together the scattered pieces, many began to doubt the direction the Zebras were taking.
He discarded the so-called tried (and in some instances tired) and tested veterans, and opted for youth and vim. Results stubbornly refused to come but evidence of progress was there for all to see.
Beating Burkina Faso was a turning point as the youngsters have progressed
in leaps and bounds. This was hardly surprising given Butler’s firm faith in youth as the Englishman has not hesitated to throw them at the deep end and they have responded immaculately.
After the win over Mali, expectations unsurprisingly soared. But the lads were beaten in the return leg on Tuesday despite a gallant fight.
Disturbingly the Doubting Thomases re-emerged and started berating Butler and the team.
This is a young project, which deserves the nation’s every ounce of support.
Pulling in different directions or being critical simply because one does not agree with the coach’s choices is not the smartest thing to do. Everyone who would want to see the Zebras progress should offer a positive contribution and not criticise for the sake of scoring cheap points. It is, after all, our national team. Authorities at the Botswana Football Association should ensure the team is well taken care of. It became apparent in the last three games that the Zebras, like during Jelusic Veselin’s era, is still a capable cash cow with more than P2.5million realised from the turnstile. Therefore the boys should be adequately incentivised such that we get optimum performance from the team for the benefit of us all.
“Traditions bring continuity to one's existence, but this sort of continuity is precisely what has been increasingly lost throughout modernity.”
– Lars Fr. H. Svendsen