The Orange Africa Cup of Nations trophy came to Botswana for three days as part of its Seven African Nations tour.
The trophy, which is accompanied by the legendary three times African Player of the year, Ab├®di Pel├® Ayew, has been to Ghana and Zambia and is now in Botswana, courtesy of Stanbic Bank.
The Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, Leina Gabarane, expressed pride and gratitude for the contribution they are making to the history of Botswana football in bringing the highly coveted trophy home. Accepting the trophy, the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Gladys Kokorwe, said she highly appreciated the efforts by Stanbic Bank to give Batswana an opportunity to associate and support the trophy at a close level.
She said that even though Botswana has never won the trophy nor qualified for the finals of the Cup, the coming of the Orange Africa Cup of nations to Botswana might spur local footballers to one day bring the trophy home.
“Botswana did not qualify for the 2010 AFCON Cup of Nations but this does not mean we should disassociate ourselves from the activities thereof. It should afford us an opportunity to develop the zeal and the desire to see ourselves compete at the next AFCON Cup of Nations slated for 2012,” she said, adding that “the African Cup of Nations is our cup the same way as the World Cup is not South Africa’s but Africa’s”.
Ab├®di Pel├®, the Standard Bank’s Chief Football Ambassador, said that as a football guru, he does not believe that the trophy belongs to football players but to the fans.
“For the past ten years we have not had a trophy tour and I believe this tour will connect the fans to their teams and the sports,” he said. Pel├®, who helped Ghana win the African Cup of Nations in 1978 at the age of 17 and currently ranked 3rd in the list of African footballer of the Century list, has expressed high hopes in local football, noting that the commitment of Botswana to football will one day pay off.
He also did not shy away in confidently declaring that one day an African country will lift the World Cup, saying that it has been history that a country or continent that hosts the World Cup always produces the champion, saying that he believes South Africa will win the World Cup.
The President of Botswana Football Association, Mr. David Fani, also shared the same sentiments with Pele that African football is growing, saying: “There is no doubt that our football is growing and with the emergence of brilliant, refined talent in our country, I believe in a few years we will qualify for the finals of CAF.”
Fani was referring to such upcoming promising talent as the Flamingo Santos youngster, Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele, who is the local Stanbic Bank Football ambassador.
Tsotso Ngele is the winner of the Coca Cola Player of the Tournament for 2008 and 2009.
The trophy will be in Botswana for three days and will be displayed exclusively at Standard Bank branches in Gaborone.