Sleeping Botswana giants, Extension Gunners, have assured the football fraternity that they will put their off-the-field problems aside and represent the country well in the 2012 edition of the CAF Confederations Cup.
Gunners have been pitted against TANA FC of Madagascar in the preliminary round first leg which is expected to be played in Gaborone on February 18. The second leg will take place in the island during the weekend of March 2-4.
Mapantsula makes a return to international football after almost 10 years and they are the only local side in the continental club competition.
Gunners qualified for the tournament after winning the Coca-Cola Cup beating Motlakase 3-1 in an action-filled match at Lobatse Sports Complex seven months ago.
In recent times, Gunners have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons and, at some stage, they had to play two consecutive league games without proper training as their players were in a boycott over unpaid salaries. Gunners’ newly appointed communications officer, Abdul Kgengwenyane, said that the CAF Confederations Cup will be the right platform to win back the hearts of their supporters.
“I don’t doubt the quality that is in our squad. I think we can compete and represent the country well. I admit that there is room for improvement but that does not mean we can’t compete. Our squad has been demoralized due to unfavourable balance sheet but the management is doing something to address the situation,” said Kgengwenyane.
Their decision to enter continental tournament has shocked many people knowing that taking part in African competitions demands a lot financially. But Gunners’ management says they have taken a decision to play the tournament in order to expose their squad.
“We’re currently talking to events’ promotion companies and once we’ve settled for one, that company will help us raise funds and market the game. We’re turning 50 years next year so we believe that playing in Africa will be part of the celebrations,” the club’s spin doctor added.
Since there will be no league games till February, Kgengwenyane pointed out that they have come with a plan to keep his side in shape ahead of their first leg against TANA FC.
The Premier League went on break last weekend to allow the national team to prepare for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) which kicks off in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon on January 21 to February 12. He said that they have proposed some friendly games with other clubs from neighbouring countries, which he believes will kip his side fit.
“We’ll also engage local Premier League clubs to play some tournaments because it will also help them in getting ready for the continuation of the second round,” Kgengwenyane continued.
The Gunners’ mouthpiece further appealed to the supporters to buy the club’s replicas, which have been on sale since August.
Since Gunners changed their technical sponsor from Dlala, there has been an outcry from the supporters saying that their new kit is of low quality and does not deserve to be sold at around P250.
“I’ve no problem with the quality of our replicas. I’ve been wearing it for four months now but it’s still in good condition. I would like to urge all our supporters to buy replicas because it will help improve our finances,” he concluded.