Monday, April 12, 2021

Laying a solid foundation for the future?

“After the Morocco fiasco, they returned to their beds assuming that the issue has been laid to rest.”
– “They see how their colleagues from other nations are well looked after by their respective football association” associations.”
– “Their patience has reached elastic limit.”

It hit the Zebras camp prior to their joint Nations’ Cup/World Cup qualifiers against Morocco in Casablanca last year, now it has revisited the team’s camp in a more diplomatic way, ahead of their crunch encounter against a closed book, Mauritania, in Stade Olympique of Nouakchott.
This is how one can sum up the announcement by Zebras kingpins, Dipsy Selolwane and Mogogi Gabonamong, that they are indefinitely retiring from national team activities.

It is an open secret that the two Zebras players ‘indefinitely retired’ because, if they continued playing for the Zebras, they stand to lose out in terms of bonuses at their team, Santos of South Africa.

Some analysts have always maintained that the “blue” news, at least to the unconsciously passionate Zebras fans, was imminent.
Lesilo Madithapa, an ardent follower of the team based in Selebi-Phikwe, said that the Botswana Football Association has always failed when it comes to the welfare of the players.

“When the boys threatened to boycott the game against Morocco last year, the BFA was supposed to wake up and do something after that. Instead ,they returned to their beds assuming that the issue has been laid to rest,” he said.

Most Zebras supporters who spoke to Sunday Standard Sport supported the move by Selolwane and Gabonamong.

“They are laying a good foundation for the next generation of Zebras players. Our national team players have long been exploited, playing for peanuts. How do we match the likes of South Africa, who sometimes give their players
appearance fees in excess of P50 000,” said one Premier league coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another South African based player, Kagiso Tshelametsi of City Pillars, also excused himself from the Mauritania assignment because, as he puts it, “I still want to cement my position in the team (City Pillars).”

Those close to the player said that the talented goalkeeper was just being diplomatic because he is also concerned about the meager remunerations at the Zebras.

Buti Tawele of Serowe said that the turning professional of Botswana players will really “shake” the BFA a bit.

“The likes of Dipsy play with other international players at their clubs. They actually see how their colleagues from other countries are well looked after by their respective football associations. The poor guys’ patience has reached elastic limit. More Zebras players will follow suit for sure,” said Tawele.

Tawele’s prediction should not be taken lightly as this has happened across associations which have thrown a curved ball at their players.

This presents a rough road for newly acquired coach, Colwyn Rowe, who will not have his best players for the qualifiers. Suppose the players refuse to return, how will Botswana judge Rowe’s performance? A matter of fact: both Selolwane and Gabonamong are vital cogs in the Zebras line-up.
It would be improper to label the players as hotheads. They are merely and professionally safe-guarding their hard earned professions. They do not owe it to any body.

Being over-loyal to your national team has proved to be suicidal sometimes. The then Turkish – based South African international, Dumisa Ngobe, would go to an extent of missing most of his club’s games in Europe to honour Bafana Bafana calls in the name of patriotism and loyalty.

What happened next? He missed out on bonuses. This was not a big deal because the South African Football Association paid their players.

But a final blow: His contract with the Turkish team was terminated. No other club in Europe wanted to have a look at him because they didn’t want to risk signing a player who does not know where his bread is buttered.

When Ngobe returned home to South Africa, he was deemed a failure who failed dismally overseas. The guy is now playing in the lower ranks. This scenario must be playing repeatedly in the minds of Selolwane and Gabonamang.


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