The Zebras will have to dig themselves out of a hole after suffering a 2-0 reversal against Uganda in Kampala in an opening Group D AFCON qualifier on Saturday.
The result left the Zebras joint bottom with Comoros after the minnows also suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of Aristide Bance’s Burkina Faso.
With only the group winners and the three best-placed runners-up making it to Gabon in 2017, Butler and his charges immediately invited pressure with the defeat. Butler is enduring a torrid run since qualifying for the group stages of the 2015 AFCON qualifiers.
The team lost all six group stage games, save for a 0-0 stalemate against Tunisia. The Zebras managed just one penalty shoot-out win against a barely recognisable Bafana Bafana in the COSAFA Cup last month. This leaves Butler still searching for his first competitive win in open play since beating Guinea Bissau at the National Stadium last July. This means if the Zebras fail to beat Lesotho in a CHAN qualifier this weekend, they will clock one year without official victory in open play.
Butler has not hesitated to rotate players and has hardly settled on his squad, 16 months into his job. Prior to departure for Uganda, Butler said he had finally settled on his squad. While his critics have blamed lack of results on the chopping and changing, Butler’s admirers will argue he has created depth, with young players getting recognition.
But Butler will find that fans are not as patient as failure to emerge from a group that contains favourites Burkina Faso, Uganda and Comoros, will be regarded as a disaster. Butler’s predecessor, Stanley Tshosane had left a winning feel after leading the Zebras to their maiden AFCON finals appearance in 2012.
The BFA has asked Butler to qualify for both the AFCON and CHAN finals while there were conflicting targets regarding the COSAFA Cup held in South Africa last month.
While BFA technical director, Ben Kgomela told journalists days before the COSAFA Cup that Butler had been mandated to bring the trophy home, his president, Tebogo Sebego said the Englishman had achieved his target by reaching the semi finals of the regional competition. The Zebras’ next AFCON assignment is a home tie against a tough and unpredictable Burkina Faso on September 5.
ZEBRAS’ RECENT RESULTS (AFCON AND COSAFA CUP)
Tunisia 2-1 Botswana
Tunisia 0-0 Botswana
Senegal 3-0 Botswana
Egypt 2-0 Botswana
Senegal 2-0 Botswana
Egypt 2-0 Botswana
Uganda 2-0 Botswana
RSA 0-0 Botswana
(6-7 on penalties)
Mozambique 2-1 Botswana
Madagascar 2-1 Botswana