BY BOTLHALE KOOTHUPILE
And so the days of Major David Bright have come and gone. Appointed to fanfare and much expectation, Bright has lasted just about a year before he was shown the door.
As usual, the Zebras, now under the care of interim coach Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote will soon have a new gaffer.
Bright’s mistake, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) wants all to believe, was that he did not meet set targets as per his contract with the association.
The firing of Bright once again raises the issue of whether the gaffer should shoulder the blame of the Zebras’ failure alone or if the BFA is equally to blame.
The BFA Chief Executive Officer Mfolo Mfolo, says among the main deliverables of his contract, Major Bright ‘had a target of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals’ and was also expected to help improve Botswana’s [Fifa] rankings by 15 places.’
Despite an increase in the number of teams that will participate in the Afcon finals, Bright and his charges failed to deliver, while the country’s rankings also went a few notches down.
“I think Bright and Zebras failures can best be described by what South African Football President Danny Jordaan once said when talking about Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for major tournaments,” one administrator said.
“Jordaan asked how people expected Bafana Bafana to play in the World Cup at senior level while none of junior national teams qualify for tournaments. This is the same situation with Botswana,” the administrator said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the administrator said as much as Bright failed, the BFA was a big part and parcel of such failure.
The administrator opined that while junior national teams were prioritised prior to the Zebras’ 2012 Afcon appearance, the association dropped the ball ‘post the 2012 Afcon finals maiden appearance.’
“If you remember the Under 17 team that was coached by Kaizer Kobedi, it was a talented team that did very well. It should have been kept together and nurtured. Some of them could have been in the national team by now. But where are they?” the administrator asked rhetorically.
With another foreign coach likely to be appointed, the administrator said he does not expect whoever the incoming coach is to succeed.
So far, the Russian Football Union has shown willingness to provide Botswana a coach. The Russian deal however will be dependent on whether Botswana can provide accommodation for the coach.
Other potentials include former Zebras Serbian coach Jelusic Veselin, who is allegedly the BFA’s preferred candidate for the job while Bright’s predecessor Peter James Butler has also expressed interest in the job.
“Any coach who will be appointed will inherit the same problems that Bright left,” one former administrator said when reached for comment.
“We do not have a clear and deliberate plan to produce quality players who can compete. You do not wake up one morning and have or become a national team player. Even when you develop players, you have to ensure they get game time because you just cannot pick players who do not play regularly,” the former administrator said.
“Look at the current Botswana Premiership League log, who is the top goal scorer? Joel Mogorosi. And he is in the twilight of his career and if you are to pick a national team, he will have to be picked because we have no players to replace him, not just because he is good but because we have failed to develop and bring in the other talented goal scorers. When he finally can no longer be picked for national duty, we will have a gap,” he opined.
The former administrator said the BFA and BPL now have a duty to ensure that development players get a game time at the elite as well as lower leagues to ensure young talent plays competitively.
Both the administrators are of the view that Botswana should ensure there is continuity and junior teams are given priority.
They are of the view that if the status quo continues as it is, aside from the history making Stanley Tshosane, who led the Zebras to its one and only Afcon finals appearance back in 2012, no coach is likely to achieve the same feat.
While many may not be aware, the history making team that took the country to the Afcon was a team more than two decades in the making.
The core of the team had been developed over the years, having gone through the BFA junior national teams and having played in major junior continental games.
The likes of Diphetogo Selolwane came from a crop of players who made the country’s first appearance in Afcon finals in 1995, albeit as Under 17 national team.
Others like Mogogi Gabonamong came from the talented 1997 national Under 17 team which also competed in the junior Afcon finals which were hosted by Botswana.
The other notable additions were from Bright’s talented national under 23 team which surprised many people when it came second at the Sasol 8 Nations Tournament in South Africa, before winning a tournament in China.
Bright’s team had within it the likes of Jerome Ramatlhakwana, Phenyo Mongala and Moemedi Moatlhaping, just to mention but a few.
By the time the team went to the Afcon finals, there were other additions to the team in the likes of the then youthful attacking midfielder Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele.
Meanwhile, the former administrator said unlike Tshosane, Bright took the Zebras reins at a not so opportune time for Botswana football.
“If you ask Tshosane as to how he qualified for the Afcon finals, he will tell you of three key things,” the former administrator said.
“He will tell you that at the time, the league was very competitive, Botswana’s foreign players were active at their respective teams and that he got as many friendly games as he could get. Unfortunately, Bright did not have all these and he thus failed,” the administrator concluded.