The year 2010 will be the most critical for sports in Botswana. It will be a year whereby local history books might be re-written, especially in the field of football.
Compared to the last two years, there will be more football activities. Thus, in return, many Batswana will obviously also have higher expectations. Firstly, two local clubs will be participating in the African club competitions after several years of non participation.
The last time a local side took part was in 2006 and it was Township Rollers that made impressive outings. Rollers became the first local side to knock out a Zambian team in an official tournament only to be knocked out by an Angolan side, Inter Club de Luanda by an aggregate of 2-1.
This year, local sides, Gaborone United (GU) and Uniao Flamengo Santos, will be in for it to try to break the previous records.
The road, however, will not be an easy one as GU takes on South African giants, Orlando Pirates, while debutants Santos take on Mozambican side, Costa dol Sol.
Most eyes, however, will be on the senior national team, which is under the tutelage of Stanley Tshosane. The team will have a busy schedule and in turn, many Batswana have expectations.
What will further pressurise coach Tshosane is that for the first time, Botswana has several players in the professional ranks in South Africa. Zebras will be starting the year with the African Champions tournament (CHAN).
The tournament was inaugurated in 2007 and Botswana lost to Zambia by an aggregate of 3-1. This time around Botswana will take on neighbours, South Africa, in March. Botswana has always had problems when playing against, South Africa, be it a friendly or an official match. Botswana defeated South Africa once in the COSAFA tournament in 2006 at the National Stadium, while the rest were won by the former.
The qualifications for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations also starts next year and that is the area in which many Batswana do not want to see Zebras lagging behind.
Botswana has never qualified for any major tournament and 2012 is the ultimate goal of the Botswana Football Association (BFA). Due to the downward spiral of Botswana in the FIFA rankings, Botswana might find themselves having to start in the preliminary stages.
The last time Botswana participated in the preliminaries was in 2003 when they defeated Lesotho by an aggregate score of 4-1. The daunting task will be with coach Tshosane who should prove critics wrong. Many people are of the belief that the team should be given to a foreign coach.
The team has, however, been in the hands of a foreign coach before but they did little to improve the team’s fortunes.
The national Under 23 team should also be in a full swing next year in preparations for both the All Africa Games and the Olympics.
The Under 23 team that made a name for itself was the one under David Bright, who is now in the professional ranks in South Africa. The team made history by beating big African teams.
Previously, it was just a pipe dream for Botswana to defeat the likes of Tunisia, Morocco, Cameroon and Ghana. Even Asian countries like China and South Korea did not escape the wrath of Botswana.
Next year will decide the champions of 2009/2010 Premier League. Just like last season, this season promises to be a thriller. So far Rollers are the leading team in the league and if other teams cannot close the gap now, by the time they wake up it might be very late.
Last season it was really thrilling because the league was decided in the last game and for that matter two teams that locked horns stood a chance to win it.
Eventually it was Gaborone United that wrapped it up.
The fate of the suspended BFA Chief Executive Officer, Mooketsi Kgotlele, will be decided next year. He is alleged to have been involved in a bribery scandal amounting to P600 000, the centre figure being the Zebras.
Other codes like athletics and Volleyball will also be busy for the All Africa Games and the Olympics.
The major challenge for other codes has been finances.
They should work hard in the following season and secure more sponsors.