Saturday, September 25, 2021

Are Zebras’ players ready for the challenges ahead?

In Botswana where almost everything is dismissed, local players risk being exposed at such events, especially that it will be the first time Botswana makes an appearance.

Investigations conducted in the past have revealed that excessive drinking has a negative impact on the performance of an athlete. Some of the most talented players have seen their football careers take a nosedive because of drinking and too much partying.

In neighbouring South Africa, talented players like Patrick ‘Ace’ Mbuthu, Thabiso ‘Skapie’ Malatsi and Jabu Mahlangu have seen their careers disrupted at an early age due to such activities.
Locally, there are some players who have proven to have the same problems like those of Malatsi and company.

In the past weekend during the international break, some of the players were seen in public areas under heavy influence of alcohol, something which left their fans speechless.

Just last week prior to their Euro 2012 match against Wales at the Wembley Stadium, England coach Fabio Capello did not mince his words when he talked about Liverpool striker Andy Carroll who is said to be a big party animal.

“If he (Carroll) wants to be a good player, he needs to drink less,” Capello told the journalists. Surprisingly, former Liverpool midfielder John Barnes did not see anything wrong with players drinking saying that as long as it is the right time.

“Why shouldn’t players go out and get drunk? Everyone else does. This is just binge drinking, whereby he (Carroll) likes to go out and drink too much and party, type of thing, so it’s more of a lifestyle rather than a problem,” said Barnes. He added that the hypocrisy comes from the public wanting to hang somebody because he went out and got drunk when it should not even be an issue as long as it is the “right time”.

In the past African Cup of Nations, reports (especially after the concerned countries were knocked out) have come out that some players prefer to go on drinking sprees during their off-days and even bring women to their rooms at odd hours. Some players have even been banned from international football after they failed drug tests in the past.

Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure returned to international football the past weekend after serving a six-month suspension after he failed a drug test.

Acting BFA chief executive officer, Tlhagiso Sethibe, said that his association is aware of the challenges ahead and in July they took about 26 players for drug testing and education at the University of Botswana.

“We wanted to sensitise our players and we want to believe that they learnt something. In December, we’ll also conduct another test before the team departs,” said Sethibe.

He added that on September 19, the association has arranged a meeting with all the Premier League clubs’ coaches where the national team coach is expected to brief them about some of his concerns with regard to the players’ behaviour on and off the field.

National team coach Stanley Tshosane told Sunday Standard that there will be disciplinary measures in place before travelling to West Africa and all the players will have to abide by them.

“Honestly, we’re aware that some of our players indulge in excessive drinking and smoking and we know those players. We talk to these players on regular basis to stop such behaviour in time before the Nations Cup because you never know how long some of these substances take in the body. Before we leave (for AFCON), we’re going to ensure that we travel with a clean squad,” said Tshosane, who is a staunch member of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC).

He appealed to the clubs to help them ensure that the players remain clean in the build-up to the showpiece.

The Zebras gaffer added that the September 19 meeting with the coaches would help his cause a lot.
Football analyst, Molatlhegi Mangole, said that Premier League office could have long put in place a Doping Test Unit (DTU) to ensure that our players get used to it.

“When they get there (AFCON), it will be a new thing to them and it will be an embarrassment to the country if some of our players fail the test,” he said.

Some years ago while Mangole was still an official at one of the Premier League clubs, he was bad-mouthed by the supporters after he allegedly released some of the star players who were said to be indulging in marijuana.

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