No team from Botswana will participate in the continental club competitions this year thanks to the decision by Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United (GU) to pull out.
Both teams were supposed to take part in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations Cup. Centre Chiefs announced earlier this year that they will not be taking part while GU announced a few days before they were scheduled to travel to Zanzibar. GU’s announcement came as a shock to many including even the players who were looking forward to the African adventure.
“It definitely came as a huge shock for us. We were always told that we will be playing in African competition and some of us were happy because it was going to give us international experience. It was very painful to us players because there has never been any indication that we will not be playing,” said one of the players who preferred anonymity.
The withdrawal by GU has even sent shockwaves across the football fraternity in Botswana. The team was seen as the sole representatives following Centre Chiefs’ withdrawal from a competition that will pit them against some of the best teams on the continent. On the other hand, information gathered by Telegraph Sports is that the sudden withdrawal of GU was due to continued infighting in the team. A source close to the developments told Telegraph Sports that all along GU was supposed to play in the African competition but some influential individuals just decided not to let the team compete. It is alleged that the individuals are angry at the fact that some people have taken the team to court; something he says is tarnishing the image of the team.
“All along everybody was confident that the team was going to play in Zanzibar and even the hotel bookings were done. Some very powerful people at the team just decided that the team will not go to Zanzibar as scheduled. The other committee members could do much and the team had to withdraw. It is not like there was no money or something but the infighting in the team is the problem,” said the source.
The source also alleged that the infighting resulted in international player, Ofentse Nato deciding not to sign for GU and opt for cross town rivals, Township Rollers.
“Everyone knows in the country that when Nato comes for his break in India, his first choice has always been GU. It was even the case this year. He wanted to once again sign for us but the continued squabbles in the team made his choose our rivals, Township Rollers. This is not good at all for our team and we should attend to our problems until it is very late,” said the source. Meanwhile, acting GU spokes person, Ernest Mmirwa rubbished the allegations leveled against his team, insisting that the main reason why GU could not take part in the African Club Competitions was indequate finances.
“It is not child’s play to play in Africa, it is very expensive. That is why we withdrew at the last minute because we really tried by all means to raise the much needed cash to go to Zanzibar. We were roughly going to need P500 000 to travel there and if we were to qualify for the next round it was even going to be very high and definitely we could not really manage that,” he said. Mmirwa also stated that people will always talk to tarnish the good image of the team as they might be having ulterior motives.