Cash-strapped Premier League giants, BDF XI will now take part in the CAF Confederations Cup courtesy of a last-minute financial bail-out from the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC).
Matebele’s participation in the tournament, which starts tomorrow, has been hanging in the balance because of financial difficulties. But yesterday, the club’s vice-chairperson, Christopher Mbaakanyi told the media at Lekidi Centre that they have been rescued by the BNSC.
Hence, BDF XI will travel to Tanzania for a date with Young Africans in the first leg of the preliminary round. The game takes place tomorrow at the 60,000 capacity Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium.
BDF XI had initially informed the Botswana Football Association (BFA) that they may pull out of the competition if they fail to raise over P1 million needed to cover the costs of the preliminary round.
They asked for funds from the BNSC through the BFA and until this week, it was uncertain whether they would travel to the East African country.
The BNSC has agreed to avail almost half of the money needed for the two legs. The BNSC will sort out accommodation for the visiting team and stadium rental fees for the return leg. BDF XI will use the new Lobatse Stadium as its home ground when they host Young Africans in two weeks time.
Despite the uncertainty over whether they would take part in the tournament, the team has been preparing for the two games ever since the release of the fixtures.
“Although we were not sure whether we were going or not, I want to assure the nation that we will represent them well,” Mbaakanyi told journalists yesterday.
Head coach, Letang ‘Rasta’ Kgengwenyane said they started preparing for the tournament after the Christmas break. The team did not play international friendly matches, but pitted its wits against Police XI and Jwaneng Galaxy.
BDF XI won the two friendlies. They have also been doing well in the league since the beginning of the year, winning thrice and losing once. Kgengwenyane said his team has enough experience with the likes of Mompati Thuma having represented the national team for years. Thuma was part of the history making Zebras team that qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2012 for the first time. Four players in the current BDF XI squad, Othusitse Mpharitlhe, Bonolo Phuduhudu, Thato Ogopotse and Kabelo Seakanyeng are currently in the national team.
Kgengwenyane said they will approach the away game with caution and hope to catch their opponents with counter attacks.
Due to financial constraints, BDF XI were not able to send people to study their opponents.
They are travelling without Moreetsi Mosimanyana, Bakang Onneetse and Ofentse Mmipi who are nursing injuries. Captain, Thuma said the players were ready to fight as they would not only be representing the team, but the nation as well.
Popularly known as Yanga, Young Africans are currently sitting at position two in the Tanzanian Premier League. They have won the league 24 times, the Tanzanian Cup four times and the Council of East and Central Football Associations (CECAFA) inter-club cup five times. BDF XI are expected back in the country on Sunday.