It is all game over for the senior national team, Zebras, as far as qualifying for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) is concerned. It was one of the worst performances of the Zebras in recent years because of the six matches the team played in which they only managed a point and a goal. Surprisingly this was a team that just three years ago qualified for Afcon that was held in both Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The dismal performance of the Zebras has even left many people asking themselves many questions about the direction it is heading to and fingers are pointing to the direction of the coach, James Peter Butler.
Just from the onset when the only coach to take Zebras to Afcon who happens to be a local, Stanley Tshosane was fired about two years back, it was not clear from the Botswana Football Association (BFA) why they wanted him gone. BFA President, Tebogo Sebego even gave contradictory answers when trying to explain the sacking of Tshosane. When Butler came in, Sebego stressed that his main mandate was to build a solid team for the future. Sebego said at the time that Butler’s main task was to build a very strong team and qualification for 2015 would just be a bonus.
But Zebras have since been under intense criticism because critics say the team lack strong components of development and even the coach seems not to know what he is doing. Just after Tunisia that earned the Zebras their only point of the campaign, former youth teams coach and also Township Rollers Assistant coach, Teenage Mpote lambasted the coach on one of the national radio stations. Mpote said Zebras lacked direction and it might take time for results to come.
“Honestly there is a problem with our national team compared to the previous coaches. What was there has been dismantled and there is no direction at all. During the time of Tshosane, results were coming and you could see that the team had a strong foundation of defense and at the same time we were scoring. We had a very strong defense which was our key point but currently what do we really have? We are not scoring and we are also conceding a lot of goals,” he said.
Mpote also questioned Butler’s philosophy of development saying many good players who went through the national setups are being overlooked. Mpote’s words follow those of former administrator, Segolame Ramothwa who also once criticised the Zebras technical team for lack of foresight. He said if indeed they were developing, why would they bring players who were a bit over age and also not been through any national youth teams? Ramothwa even stressed that the national team is a no go area for players from the lower divisions because they are not used to vigorous competitions. On the other hand, one former coach who preferred anonymity made it clear that Butler is a wrong man for the national team. He said the BFA should fire him with immediate effect to avoid further embarrassment. “A lot has happened in front of our eyes since Butler and his assistant Pio Paul took charge of the Zebras. Honestly he is not fit for our national team. If indeed the BFA are serious they should fire him or else they are headed for tough times ahead,” he concluded.