Botswana has never hosted the toast of African football tournament being the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) since it started in 1957.
The closest Botswana came to hosting it was the 2010 Afcon that was held in Angola. Most countries did not bid and put their weight behind Botswana. Botswana Football Association (BFA) then under the leadership of Dikgang Philip Makgalemle wanted to take advantage of the World Cup that was held in South Africa and for the first time on the African continent.
But as a requirement, any association would need government backing to host any major event. The government would not back the BFA at the last minute and the tournament ended up being held in Angola.
Botswana’s senior national team was looking forward to play in the tournament for the first time in their history.
However that served as wake up call for Botswana because the national team ended up qualifying for 2012 Afcon that was co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Botswana is now looking forward to host the 2017 Afcon that was to be hosted by Libya. Libya pulled out because of the deteriorating political situation in the country.
Several countries are looking forward to seize the opportunity. Botswana was bit distant to bit but Zimbabwe convinced to them to co-host the tournament. BFA has since gladly accepted the proposal but it is now left to the government to back the BFA effort. Zimbabwe had wanted to co-host with Zambia but the latter refused because they will be hosting another major tournament.
On the other hand sports analyst told Sunday Standard that Botswana should by all means grab the opportunity and co-host the tournament with Zimbabwe. Radipotsane added that co-hosting the tournament does not require much resources unlike if Botswana were to bid and host alone.
“Hosting a tournament of Afcon caliber has so many advantages for the country and we should by all means go for it. There are going to be so many economic spinoffs that are going to benefit the country. Just look at the African Youth Games that were held earlier on the year, there was a vibe in almost all over the country despite being just held in Gaborone. If we co-host Afcon with Zimbabwe we would not need many facilities that would require a lot of money. If you look at the 2012 Afcon, Gabon only used two stadiums and with what we currently have we can successfully do it,” he said.
Radipotsane also emphasized that the government should even more committed to help the BFA to stage the tournament. He said the government has so many channels that often hinders fruitful negotiations.
“People negotiating on behalf of the government should be experts on their field who understand issues extensively. This will make it easier for the government officials to be easily convinced”, he said.
Radipotsane also said staging of Afcon would help local players to easily play outside the country as more scouts will pay attention to the country even after the tournament had long gone.
Other countries that are seriously bidding for 2017 include Ghana, Egypt, Mali, Ethiopia and East African foursome of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. East African countries are even planning to co-host the tournament. The deadline for the bidding process is on Tuesday and it remains to be seen how it will go.