Premier League teams are heading for a showdown with the Botswana Football Association (BFA) over the release of the national Under 20 players for the upcoming COSAFA tournament to be held in South Africa in less than two weeks.
Most Under 20 players are active in their respective teams with several teams having more than three players in the youth team. This then means teams with more than three players should not play as per the regulations.
Already information reaching Sunday Standard is that teams are not willing to release most of their influential players, thus leaving the national Under 20 team with a thin squad.
Teams that have most players are either doing well or badly. Those doing well want to maintain their positions and those that are finding the going tough want to improve on their results.
Teams that look to be affected are Township Rollers, Notwane, Uniao Flamengo Santos, Gaborone United and BDF XI.
Rollers are currently riding on the crest of a wave as they are leading the league and do not want to see their mission of winning the league championship disturbed.
Notwane, on the other hand, are finding the going tough and are rooted at the bottom of the league. Notwane players in the under 20, just like Rollers, make the nucleus of the team.
Santos are also not doing well to date and the releasing of their players would compound their situation.
Just last weekend, they heavily lost to Gunners by four goals to one. This then means the national Under 20 might not perform to expectations at the tournament.
Botswana also has never performed well at the COSAFA tournaments and this could be the time because most of the players have already been exposed to international football.
The impending situation would just remind the nation about the recent senior COSAFA challenge where Botswana lost to hosts Zimbabwe in the quarter finals.
People might be calling for the coach’s head, but he was hard done. After one of the matches, the players had to travel back home for the Premier League encounters and then return to Zimbabwe only to lose. The acting executive secretary for the Premier League was in an un-compromising mood about the situation.
He said that regardless of the national team engagements, the Premier League matches will go on. He said they are under pressure because the league is already behind schedule and it is up to the teams and the BFA to solve the issue amicably.
“The Premier League matches have to go on regardless whether the team has more than three players in the team. We are under pressure because we have postponed some matches before and if we postpone again, then we are going to have huge problems. Bear in mind we want to finish our matches before the World Cup that start in June and if we do not fast track our matches we then won’t finish on time,” he said.
Phuthego also added that the Coca-Cola tournament has also come into the picture, meaning that they have to accommodate it in the already congested fixtures.
He emphasised that it is up to the teams to sit down with the national team coaches and come up with a compromise.
Compromise, on the other hand, would mean less quality players for the team.
However, one team official who preferred anonymity, told Sunday Standard that they are watching the proceeding closely. He blamed the Premier League for poor planning, saying there should always be an events calendars for the whole season well in advance.
Efforts to contact the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Football Association, Losika Keatlholetswe, proved futile at the time of going to press.
He was reported to be outside the country.
Full team list:
Gaopatwe Sesenyeng, Basimanebotlhe Moilwa, Kabo Rasuping (BDF XI), Motshegetsi Sikele (BMC), Maikano Maikano (Moshupa Cloud Busters), Lone Keatlholetswe (Flamingo), Mogakolodi Ngele, Bakang Moeng, Thato Bolwelweng, Pako Lekgari (Uniao Flamingo Santos), Kaelo Kgaswane, Ntesang Simanyana, Ricardo Matekenya (Gaborone United), Isaac Paeye, Bogosi Mfila (Miscellaneous), Mosimanegape Reetsang (Mogoditshane Fighters), Kgaodi Odirile, Galabgwe Moyana, Kenamile Mane, Ndiye Mbikiwa (Notwane), Simisane Mathumo, Phenyo Molefhe, Aubrey Kebonnetse, Kabelo Dambe (Township Rollers and Boiteko Tapela