FIRST CUT

Wishing the Zebras all the best

The national team is in South Africa to play in the COSAFA Cup. The Zebras have always been an emotional topic every time they play.

You can trust me when I posit that whatever happens in Mpumalanga, the discussions would rage on. If we win, it will be the usual excitement where suddenly everything becomes good.

If we lose, (and God forbid) it will be chaos. Overnight, we will forget about everything else and be dismissive of the technical team. We will call it names and ask the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to fire the coach or to employ another one. A dose of hypocrisy in other words. Dear reader, I must I admit the obvious. That, our football development is still work in progress. We cannot argue against this. But, going by the amount of time the national team spends in camp, it is high time we reap the rewards.

We probably have the only national team that enjoys more time together in camp. The initiated must know that getting all the national team players to camp for any length of time is usually a challenge that most countries fail. So, while there are many factors that determine how a team plays and produces the results, surely we should benefit from the fact that the Zebras' players spend a lot of time together in camp unlike many of their opponents.

Which actually brings me to the old story about the BFA always getting excited about the Zebras because it is an object of national interest. When the team wins, the leadership of the organisation looks good. When it loses, the leadership looks bad! When the national team started doing well during David Fani's tenure as BFA president, his detractors were never going to be swayed from finding specks in his eye. The story that was concocted was that the BFA officials wanted to use the national team to look good in the eyes of the public and as a starting point to develop football in Botswana. Calls were made that concentration should be placed on clubs - and not the Zebras. Which was a valid point, I must admit. There was anger that the national team spent more time in camp and this ought to be stopped. Is there anything that has changed now? The same practice persists even on a bigger scale (and may we expand on this next time).

As has been the norm, we expect large numbers of Batswana to follow the Zebras to South Africa. It is always a pleasant sight, Batswana singing and dancing away in matches. We must give credit to those who came with the idea of forming a 'Supporters' Club' for the Zebras. Despite fighting for leadership, divisions and quarrels over commercial ventures at times, mobilising support for the national team has been easy and well coordinated. Our Zebras is easily recognised as the most supported team in the region. And this support has really given the team some positive 'push' when times are hard.

Regarding the first 11, it is going to be interesting how politics off the field will influence who plays on Sunday. Why do I say this? The Boitumelo Mafoko and Joel Mogorosi saga has become a circus. There were reports this week that Orlando Pirates, the South African giants who at some stage seemed to have snapped both players, has issued a stern warning that their 'players' should not be included in the Zebras team on Sunday.

Football! Apparently, Pirates have been informed that since their disappearance from the club, Mogorosi and Mafoko have resurfaced at the Zebras' camp. What brings the element of comedy in the whole saga is that, the selling club, Township Rollers have claimed ignorance of the whereabouts of the two players. What happens if Pirates presses ahead and demands the withdrawal of players from the Zebras squad? It would surely leave the matter even more messy and coach, Stan Tshosane, with a pounding head.  Let us hope the Zebras bring something home to cheer us up despite all this.

Tis the season to campaign again!
David Fani and incumbent Phillip Makgalemele will once more go toe-to-toe in the race for the BFA presidency. It is going to be an intriguing fight. The last time, the campaign was muddy. The football fraternity, including the media, was polarised as debates raged on as to who among the two was the best. Many think Fani handed victory to the opposing camp on a platter since he did not go the length and breadth of the country to campaign. Proof was in the figures during the elections- they were very close. If recent media reports are anything to go by, we are headed for yet another bruising war. There have been intense campaigns in the media by the current leaders.

It is amazing how some sections of the media have fallen hook line and sinker for the propaganda churned out during this period. I was shocked when reading Phill's campaign document and wondered how far he is prepared to go to retain the BFA presidency.

Who in his right mind, would believe that there was no football activity and progress before his committee took over in 2004? How much can people be fooled really?

Editor's Comment
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The minister further shared that from the 320 businesses that notified the Commissioner of Labour about their plans to retrench, 20 were acceded to, which resulted in 204 workers being retrenched during April 2020 and July 2021.The retrenchments were carried out while the SoE was in place, meaning the companies that succeeded must have had solid reasons, despite the strict SOE regulations imposed on businesses to not retrench. We are left with...

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