National football team coach Peter James Butler had only scathing words for his superiors last week, after the Zebras preparations for a crucial home and away encounter with Comoros were derailed by poor planning and coordination.
Butler called on his superintendents to respect the national team if they want it to qualify for major tournaments. The coach’s frustrations were heightened after the Zebras missed out on their training schedules early this week due closure of the Francistown stadium. Worse, the team’s minicamp was only honoured by 16 players as clubs refused to release some of their players, saying the preparatory camp was not under the FIFA international break. Butler’s request for a preparatory friendly match before the qualifiers went unheeded as the Botswana Football Association (BFA) turned a deaf ear.
A seething Butler hit out at his superiors last week, saying: “How can we have national pride and continuity in football if we don’t give the national team the respect it deserves? We couldn’t train the other day because of stadium complications. There is just too much politics. People must show a bit of respect to the national team if they want us to qualify for major tournaments.”
He further called on football leaders to give the national team priority when it comes to preparations for major games.
“The Botswana Premier League has not shown respect to the national team because teams refused to release players because of the ongoing league campaign. But we have to push on. It should be understood that the Zebras is about national pride and being appreciated among the best as a nation. But we can’t achieve that in such difficult and challenging situations,” said Butler.
Botswana will play away to Comoros on March 24th while the return leg is scheduled for March 27th at Francistown Sports Complex. The team will go into the crucial encounter a limping and unprepared side as they will have had little time to prepare. The ream will travel to Comoros on Tuesday.
In response to questions from Sunday Standard, BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kitso Kemoeng said efforts to secure a friendly match for the Zebras were futile because all of the national teams that were contacted were unavailable. He also indicated that there were some security concerns that hampered their attempts to secure friendlies with other nations.
“We tried our best to secure a match but failed because of circumstances beyond our control. We could have secured a friendly with Kenya, but were advised by local authorities that it was not safe to travel to Kenya due to security concerns. We also contacted Zimbabwe and Zambia but they were not available because of tight schedules,” said Kemoeng.
Zebras qualifying campaign hit a snag at the start as they lost 2-0 away to Uganda. However, the found their footing and recorded a historic 1-0 win over African powerhouse Burkina Faso in their second match. Victory against Comoros in a two legged match that will be played within a week will greatly boost morale within the Zebras camp as they continue to plot their path to the finals, slated for Gabon early next year. Butler wants nothing less than victory and will once again rely on the dynamism of Omaatla Kebatho, Joel Mogorosi and Galabgwe Moyana to liven things up in front; while Ofentse Nato and Lebogang Ditsile will help consolidate the defence.