It is now almost a norm for Botswana football teams to be subjected to ill-treatment by their international opponents in away matches. Local teams, both junior and senior, have for many years been complaining to the Confederation of African Football to do something but to no avail. The situation is mostly rife in West, East and North Africa where visiting teams have always complained. The bad treatment is normally on and off the field. Off the field, visiting teams are normally collected from the airports very late and, in addition, they are booked in poor hotels that do not even meet star status. On the field of play, the host country is treated with kids’ gloves by the match officials while decisions are harsh on the visiting team. In Southern Africa only a few countries still practice such barbaric acts. Currently, the worst culprit in Southern Africa is the Democratic Republic of Congo followed by Angola. Other countries like Mozambique have improved drastically.
The improvement of Botswana football, especially the national Under 23, seems to have fuelled the situation. In the Olympic game against Tunisia, Botswana officials came home disappointed by the referee who was from Sudan. Fortunately, the team managed to stage a goalless draw and won 1-0 in Gaborone to advance to the group stages. Things were even worse for the Under 23 for the second leg against Angola in the All Africa Games qualifying match. Trailling 2-0 from the first leg, Angola applied all the bad tactics to avenge the score line but Botswana managed to win on penalties. Prior to the game, the players had to stay for many hours at the airport and were booked in a sub-standard hotel. In the game, the referee was harsher on Botswana and even flashed two red cards. Only a few weeks ago, the team was reportedly subjected to harsh treatment by Guinea in the Olympic qualifiers. The game ended being abandoned 13 minutes before fulltime because many Botswana players had limped off the field with injuries. Allegations of poor hotel and harsh treatment from the referee were rampant and one Botswana player, Boniface Makolo, was given his marching orders. Meanwhile in Botswana, the same Guinea outfit was booked into the glamorous Gaborone Sun for yesterday (Saturday)’s game against Botswana. Since no steps are ever taken, some people went to the extent of saying Botswana should also adopt the same tactics because they think enough is enough. Even the Botswana Football Association’s technical advisor, Losika Keatlholetswe, is a concerned man. He, however, said ill-treating other countries is not good sportsmanship and it would do more harm than good to the image of local football.
“Botswana is a developing country and, as such, we do not have to engage ourselves in things that we might regret latter. If you look at countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, they have an abundance of talent but the progression of their football is going at a snail pace because of what they have been doing to other countries. I am of the belief that football should be won fairly on the field of play,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BFA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mooketsi ‘Tosh’ Kgotlele, says the association is still undecided about the anticipated FIFA’s second golden project. He said at a recent briefing that the association would embark on measures that would cut costs.
“We are thinking of expanding our accommodation facilities at Lekidi Football Center to accommodate visiting teams. Once that is the case, we will not spend a lot of money at hotels and, in addition, we will save money and do something for the benefit of our football,” he said.
Kgotlele also said they are thinking of buying football turfs and develop certain grounds in places not far from Gaborone. He cited the example of Mochudi’s River Plate Stadium and another one in Ramotswa. He said once grounds in such places are operational, fixture postponement would be a thing of the past.
FIFA is reportedly happy with the way the BFA utilised the first batch of money from the project. The money constructed both the technical and administrative building for the BFA and the training ground as well. One of the requirements of the project is that the facilities must be well taken care of once they are operational.