Thousands of Batswana who thronged to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban last weekend for the all important Fifa World Cup qualifier against hosts South Africa came back ashamed. Bafana Bafana ran riot on the day as they hammered the Zebras 4-1 before an electrifying atmosphere. It was the best performance to come out of Bafana Bafana while it was the worst show from the Zebras. This was the Zebras’ heaviest defeat since January last year when Guinea hammered the local lads 6-1 at the African Nations Cup in Gabon. Ahead of the clash against Bafana Bafana, there was a lot of expectations from every Motswana that the Zebras would cause an upset beating the South Africans in their own backyard. The fanfare all started when the Minister of Sports Shaw Kgathi announced that Government has offered 10 buses to ferry the supporters to Durban to go on cheer their heroes.
After that at the luncheon organized for the team before their departure for Durban coast, Kgathi announced that his ministry has managed to raises over half a million from different companies as part of the bonuses provided they beat Bafana Bafana. President Ian Khama who ‘gate-crashed’ the luncheon said his government would source for more funds towards the bonuses of the players. The announcement raised a lot of interest from the fans who wanted to have firsthand experience as the Zebras invade Durban. On the day of the match, officials from the ministry of sports, Botswana National Sports Council, Botswana Football Association and Botswana National Olympic Committee were in Southern Sun Emlangeni Hotel on the Durban Coast to rally behind the team. They all shared the hotel with the Zebras. While there was excitement from the sports officials and supporters who thronged to the coast, for the players it was different as it put them under immense pressure.
Relaxing on the beach just outside the team’s hotel on Sunday morning, Zebras’ midfielder Ofentse ‘Size 10′ Nato said that the whole fanfare ahead of Bafana Bafana’s game did injustice to them. “We appreciate the interest which was shown ahead of this game. But I think somehow it backfired because it put the players under pressure. I want to believe that if the money which was raised prior to our game here could have been there from the start of the campaign, we could have done better in the qualifiers. Who knows we could have long won this group. I think in the future we need to plan properly for such qualifiers so that players know what it is in store for them,” said the Mpumalanga Black Aces midfielder. The Zebras’ elimination means that they are likely to spend almost a year without competitive football. The Zebras bowed out of CHAN qualifiers earlier last month having been beaten 3-1 by Zambia.
“This is the time for all the football stakeholders to come together and plan for the future tournaments. It is time to organize friendly games where we will be able to introduce some youngsters into the team. This would enable them to be ready for competitive games when they’re called,” said Nato. The Zebras’ next assignment is a friendly game against Burkina Faso at the National Stadium on September 30.