When Extension Gunners confirmed that they will take part in the CAF Confederations Cup after winning the Coca-Cola Cup last year, it came as a shock to many football commentators.
Gunners have been struggling financially to make ends meet in the league. There is no doubt that taking part in continental tournaments is taxing but there was a belief that the Lobatse giants have Plan B in terms of securing funds for conquering Africa.
As Gunners prepare for the return leg against TANA FC in Antananarivo, Madagascar, scheduled for next weekend, Sunday Standard, has established that Mapantsula are running against time to raise funds for the airfares to the tiny island. According to reliable sources, Gunners need close to P200, 000 for airfares but they had not been able to raise that amount by Friday afternoon. The P150, 000 which they were given by Botswana Football Association (BFA) as a reward for entering CAF competition was used in hosting TANA FC last weekend in Gaborone.
When contacted for comment on Friday, Gunners’ chairman, William Maboane, confirmed that they have not raised money needed for air tickets to the island. He said that they needed something close to P200, 000 to travel but said they were still not sure if they would make it for the return leg.
“BFA promised us P300,000 if we take part in this competition. It has been difficult to get the funds from them; and as we speak, we’re still waiting for the other P150,000 from them. The other half was used last weekend when we hosted TANA,” said Maboane.
The seemingly stressed chairman said that they have since made an appeal to Gunners’ elders to help out.
“The elders have used their connections to get us a better deal when it comes to securing tickets, something which we appreciate. Now the problem is that we have not managed to reserve those tickets but we’re supposed to leave on Wednesday. It’s very difficult to tell if we’re going to make it to Madagascar,” he added.
Maboane said that they decided to take part in the continental tournament in the interest of the nation but the current developments would force them to reconsider their position in the future.
Botswana teams have in the past failed to take part in the tournaments citing lack of funds as their main reason.
“It’s worth taking part in these tournaments because in the end it is the nation which benefits. Unless there are improvements in the future (from BFA side), I don’t see us taking part in these competitions. We’re meeting later today (Friday) and we’ will make an official statement regarding the return leg,” he said.
BFA chief executive officer, Duncan Kgame, dismissed Maboane’s statement that they promised Gunners P300,000 for this round.
“That’s not true because BFA does not have that money to fund Gunners’ trip to Madagascar. I think someone must have misled them that we would do that. We gave them the P150,000 which was due to them (for winning Coke Cup) and we’re still waiting for the Botswana National Sports Council to give us P75,000 which is given to Botswana teams taking part in continental tournaments. Let me make it clear that BNSC gives a team P75, 000 in each round as they progress not per leg,” he said.
Kgame added that his office is doing their utmost best to help Mapantsula to honour the return leg.
“I have long written to BDF (Botswana Defence Force) to see if they can’t transport them (in one of their planes) to Madagascar but they have not responded,” added Kgame.
If Gunners fail to travel to Madagascar, they are likely to be slapped with a suspension by the Confederation of African Football.