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BFA faces tough call as Zebras remain inactive

MQONDISI DUBE
The long wait: The Zebras are not expected to return to the pitch until next year PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) faces a tough call, as the Zebras will not play a competitive match for the rest of the year.

It remains unclear when international football would return as CAF recently announced the postponement of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals to 2022.

The qualifiers are only expected to return next year if the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation improves. This would mean the Zebras, and other national teams, would be inactive for at least 14 months. Their last competitive match was against Algeria in an AFCON qualifier in November.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Maclean Letshwiti admitted it was a tough situation, when quizzed about the future of the Zebras technical team. This could mean the technical team on the BFA payroll might be engaged in discussions with the association in order to balance books. “The national team will not be playing this year.  We have to re-look at the whole situation. Obviously, there are also contractual obligations.  You have to honour your contractual obligations, this is not anybody’s doing. That’s what makes it difficult.”

“It is a sensitive issue. It is a contractual matter, so we cannot make comments to that effect (if the staff had been engaged).  It is just a difficult period for football.  Anybody will

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tell you that it is not my fault,” Letshwiti said. He said football structures should use the COVID-19 enforced break to build their capacities and consolidate.

Letshwiti hinted that local football is likely to return in February next year. “The State of Emergency (SoE) goes up to October, and as long as it emphasises strict social distancing, how are you going to play football? Not only that, but also testing is mandatory.  You (have to) test (the players) four times.  Government has not even tested us, so how are they going to give priority to football at the expense of the nation?”

He said given the circumstances, it was unlikely that football would be played in 2020.

Letshwiti emphasised that their decision to declare the season complete had the backing of 10 clubs, with only three sides voting for nullifying the competition. He concurred that there was need for constitutional amendments to insert a clause in case of similar incidents in future.

“It is a learning curve.  I am sure even FIFA is going to learn. Confederations and member associations have to learn as well,” Letshwiti said.



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