With his recent Twitter outbursts, Zebras coach, Peter Butler might have unwittingly piled additional pressure on himself as he prepares to face unpredictable Lesotho tomorrow, argues Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE
When the Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Tebogo Sebego and his associates settled on Peter Butler as the man to retrieve the Zebras’ seemingly lost course, they were keen on a person to repair the post 2012 AFCON finals cracks.
Butler’s predecessor, Stanley Tshosane was finding it difficult to reinvigorate his ageing battle-weary fleet. Results were not forthcoming and a fresh start was desperately needed.
The Briton was handed a three-year reign to reshape Zebras’ future after a floundering post-2012 AFCON finals, which expectedly claimed Tshosane’s scalp.
Butler was literally all over the place as he began efforts to put together the haphazard pieces of a dismantled puzzle.
He was spotted among the crowd in the sweltering Ramotswa heat scouring for talent in the First Division.
His first movement was hailed as he handed virtually anonymous players their first caps.
Unheralded players such as Lebogang Ditsele and Onkabetse Mankgantai made their entry.
There was an overwhelming feeling that he, unlike Tshosane, would cast his net far and wide.
He did spread his net, which has thus far collected nearly 100 players since he assumed duty in February 2014.
However, despite trying different combinations, consistency has been lacking, probably a reflection of Butler’s much maligned ‘pick and drop’ method.
Swelling opinion is that the senior national team is not a ground to experiment, but a platform where the best players on current form strut their stuff.
Butler had a flying start to his Zebras career when his new look team was comprehensive in dismissing a sorry looking South Sudan side 3-0.
But since that account opening, Butler’s results have been as varied as rainbow colours. He led the team to the group stages of the 2015 AFCON qualifiers, but faced with Africa’s best sides in Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal, it was a new story with the same old script.
Tshosane would argue that he handled a tough Tunisia with ease, managing 1-0 victories in Tunis and Gaborone as he dragged the Zebras to the first ever qualification in 2012.
Tshosane preferred a robust approach, which saw the team send as much as seven men behind the ball while pouncing on the odd opportunity.
He stuck to a solid line-up of tried and tested veterans. He faced his own critics over the visually unfriendly, but winning football.
Butler has been more pragmatic and always prepared to tinker with his line-up.
Tshosane was known to be diplomatic in speech, but Butler is his opposite.
He has never been afraid to brazenly ruffle his bosses’ feathers and still walk away unscathed.
Butler has argued he is building a squad for the future and has, after months of criss-crossing talent, settled on his team.
However, results have not been too generous for the Briton, with the Zebras opening their 2017 AFCON qualifier with a 2-0 reversal against Uganda before a dour 0-0 draw against lightweights Lesotho in a CHAN qualifier.
Butler might present a calm demeanour on the bench, but his talk is slowly pointing to a frustrated man.
He has been all over Twitter sparking outrage over his comments on the omission of Lesego Galenamotlhale from the national team.
The Twitter war is likely to drive a further wedge between Butler and his detractors, some of whom are already calling for his head.
With former Zebras great, Diphetogo ‘Dipsy’ Selolwane joining the bandwagon in criticising the Englishman, Butler might be, despite claims to the contrary, feeling the heat. His handling of player issues has been heavily criticised with some feeling he treats them with disdain.
While Sebego is reportedly keen to keep Butler through his contract, the coach’s Twitter behaviour and the absence of positive results has ramped up pressure.
Flu kept him away from a possible barrage of stinging questions from journalists at yesterday’s press conference.
And Butler might walk out of the National Stadium with calls for his departure gaining renewed traction if he does not get a positive result against Lesotho tomorrow.