The Zebras have been urged not to be intimidated by the continent’s big giants at the upcoming 2012 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
The call was made by Debswana Group Public and Corporate Affairs Manager, Esther Kanaimba-Senai, when she announced the extended P2 million sponsorship for Botswana National Sports Council/ Re Ba Bona Programme at Lekidi Football Centre in Gaborone on Thursday afternoon. This was less than an hour after the Zebras departed for a 10-day intensive training at the High Performance Centre in South Africa in preparation for the showpiece.
The Zebras made history by becoming the first nation to qualify for the showpiece and all eyes will be on them when they make their debut in the West African countries. Since their qualification, a lot has been said both locally and internationally.
The main contention has been whether the Zebras will be able to match their more superior opponents.
But Kanaimba-Senai has urged the local boys to put a great show out there. “As we brace ourselves for AFCON 2012, we should aim very high. We should focus on the African Cup and not on the obstacles in the form of stronger, well known teams that we will have to face. We can replace all those teams at the top,” she said.
The Debswana boss said that every Motswana has to look at the COPA America, which comes to an end today. She pointed out that the fact that South American giants Brazil and Argentina have been knocked out shows that anything is possible in football.
“The finals are to be contested by Uruguay and Paraguay while the third position battle will be between Peru and Venezuela. It can be done,” she continued.
Under the tutelage of Stanley Tshosane, the Zebras have shown little respect to continental powerhouses like Tunisia, Togo and Malawi in the ongoing qualifications.
Kanaimba-Senai said that programmes like Re Ba Bona Ha are important to the development of sports in any country. She told the gathering that some of the players who are developed through such initiatives will go a long way in improving sports codes like football.
She noted that through Re Ba Bona Ha programme, they have already assisted in creating stars like Township Rollers goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe and left winger Galabgwe Moyana of Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
“The qualification of the Zebras for the AFCON 2012 clearly demonstrated that with a little bit effort, we can triumph. There was a time when our Zebras could not qualify for anything; today is a different story as Botswana has surprised many skeptics,” she continued.
This is not the first time Debswana is pumping money towards the development of football in the country. In 2007, the diamond-mining company sponsored Botswana Football Association (BFA) to the tune of P1.5 million towards Under-15 development programme. The programme ran until last year and, according to Kanaimba-Senai, some of the youngsters raised from the programme will in the future feed the Zebras as they continue to make an impression in continental football.