As a washed out She Zebras is being humiliated at the ongoing COSAFA women championship in Zimbabwe, the red faced Botswana Football Association (BFA) Women Football Human Development insist that for the Botswana side, it is more than just a black and white issue of winning and losing.
Football experts and analysts are however reading worse into the Zebras poor form. The Botswana side went down 4-0 to their Namibian counterparts in the opening match of the tournament on Thursday, shining attention of the poor state of the crisis ridden women’s football in Botswana. Pundits point out that, the devastating defeat, which has allegedly left the local girls demoralised is a ‘cry for help for the women’s football’ which is reeling from a crisis.
Sources inside the She Zebras camp have revealed that due to ‘inactivity,’ which is caused by the absence of women’s league in Botswana, the country has sent an unfit and inadequately prepared team to the ongoing COSAFA women championships.
The source noted that ideally, a good number of the players in the team should not have made the national team. However, with uncertainty still reigning over the start of the women’s leagues in the country, the She Zebras technical team had to pick players who have been serving in the national team, even if coming out of injury.
The source pointed that while players like Lebogang Setereke are good, the fact that she has been selected while she just came back from an injury she incurred during the IWG organised ‘Target 20 000′ match in March 25th shows exactly how scrappy the team selection was.
As if that is not enough, the team is also ravaged by injuries, suspected to be a result of lack of fitness among players. Among those playing with injuries are Tlamelo Motlhale and Refilwe Tshambani.
Speaking in an interview, Mexican Girls Coach Oaitse Moeti attributed the second rate display by the local girls on ‘the inactivity of local players.’
“From a coaching point of view, nothing is going right for our team. The team is not prepared both mentally and physically and they therefore cannot match teams that are better prepared,” Moeti opined.
“Our players have been inactive for a very long time and the coach had no choice during the team selection other than go with players who have previously done duty for the national team,” he continued.
The Mexican Girls coach said the inactivity of the local girls was also evident as a few have gained a few kilos and showed signs of rustiness, hence the injuries which have plagued the team.
“Most of the injuries affecting our players can be traced to lack of fitness. This leaves me scared of what would happen today (Sunday) when they face South Africa in their final group stage match. Remember, they played a game against Lesotho yesterday and this will be their second game in two days. Considering their lack of fitness, they have a mountain to climb when they come up against South Africa,” he said.
The same sentiments were shared by Double Action Coach Alex Malete. Commenting on the issue, Malete said ‘lack of competitive league in the country immensely contributed to the shoddy performance by the She Zebras.’
“Most of the players who were selected are from teams which used to play in the now scraped Super League. Now that the league has been put out to pasture and teams are not active, players are not fit,” he explained.
In the absence of the league, Malete questioned the preparedness of the local girls, who he says were in camp for only seven days before going to the tournament.
“Unlike other countries competing in the tournament, our league is yet to start and most of the players representing Botswana have not even finished preseason training. Now, if you have such a situation and you get the team in camp for just a few days before a major tournament, it is not helpful for either the coach or the players to perform at the expected levels,” he said.
Malete said taking into consideration all the factors, it is therefore not surprising that the players seem not to be physically and mentally ready for the rigours of COSAFA tournament.
For her part, Botswana Football Association (BFA) Women Football Human Development insists Officer, Barobi Nwako, said she was glad the team came to take part in COFASA Women’s Championship 2017.
“Even though the leagues’ are not active back home I am grateful to those who organized the tournament.” Nwako said the She Zebras participation at the tournament should not be looked at as a simple black and white affair of losing and winning. “A win or lose it is helping to keep the team alive,” Ngwako said.