The animosity between the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the Premier League has once again come out in the open. The last minute cancellation of the game between Gaborone giants, Township Rollers and Police XI, is reported to have not gone down well with the Premier League and tempers flew as a result of that. The cancellation of Rollers and Police XI game resulted in all weekend games also being cancelled, something that also did not go down well with many teams. The cancellation of the games is alleged to have been imposed by the BFA. Premier League officials were irked the most by the move and blows were nearly traded on Wednesday, Sunday Standard can reveal.
What made matters worse is the fact that games cannot be cancelled on the due day as per rules and regulations by world governing football body, FIFA. Sunday Standard is also reliably informed that the main reason the games were cancelled was the fact that the national team is participating at the four nations’ tournament in Swaziland. The tournament started yesterday and ends today (Sunday). The countries that are taking part are Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and Botswana. Before the team left for Swaziland, national team coach, Colywn Rowe, expressed concern about the congested league activities saying something should be done. His concern is the one that reportedly pressurized the BFA to cancel weekly games, starting with the midweek game against Rollers.
Rowe mainly said games that are played a few days before the national team impacts negatively on his schedule. He said it is easy for players to pickup injuries and once that is the case, players hide them because they want appearance fees. He gave an example of last years Council for Southern Africa’s Football Associations (COSAFA) game against South Africa which Botswana lost 1-0. He said some players picked up injuries and it was difficult for the medical team to assess them because there was no time. He added that even if there could have been time of replacing the injured ones, it was going to remain a challenge.
On the other hand, Premier League Secretary General, Setete Phuthego, said the decision to cancel weekend league games was taken in the best interest of soccer. He also conceded that tempers did fly but at the end of the day all concerned parties had a common understanding.
“Obviously canceling the games on the day it’s supposed to be played is not an easy thing. Many people were already geared for the game and expressed their displeasure. This is also a challenge on our own to see how we resolve things of this nature in the future for the benefit of football,” he said.
Phuthego also emphasised that the BFA and the Premier League are also supposed to sit down over the schedule of the national team. He said all Premier League games scheduled just a few days before the national team ones should be done away with to give the coach ample time with the team. Phuthego also said postponement of the games means that the league is going to end latter than it was initially planned. The national team went to Swaziland minus key goalkeepers Modiri Marumo and Noah Maposa. Marumo is still busy sorting out his likely move to Egypt while Maposa is nursing a thumb injury. Another notable absentee is left winger, Nelson ‘Viola’ Gabolwelwe.
Gabolwelwe has always been at the centre of discussion with some people saying he has passed his sell by date and it is time youngsters are engaged. Rowe, however, made it clear that if the players he has do not give him what he wants, he would reconsider the old guys like Gabolwelwe.