Friday, September 25, 2020

Pressure mounts on BFA to assemble AFCON qualifiers squad

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) is racing against time to prepare the senior national team scheduled for action in just two months.

This follows an announcement by CAF on the restart of the Afcon 2021 qualifiers slated for the weekend of 9-17 November, 2020.

The rescheduled fixtures follow the postponement of the third and fourth round of matches that were initially slated for March before the Covid-19 pandemic. The move will witness the final two matches played between March 22-30, 2021.

In the rescheduled fixtures, Botswana’s Zebras are scheduled to lock horns with Chipolopolo of Zambia in a home and away compressed fixture.

From the two games played, the Zebras have garnered just a single point while Zambia is yet to register a point from the first two outings.

The Zebras shared the spoils in an opener away from home against Warriors of Zimbabwe followed by a one nil loss at home against Algeria.

Chipolopolo on the other hand lost their first two games to the reigning African champions Algeria and neighbours Zimbabwe respectively.

The qualifiers come at a difficult time for the Zebras following the stoppage of all football competitions almost six months ago due to the novel Covid-19 pandemic.

Since then, local players have been inactive from competitive football while their counterparts have stepped up preparation.

In a statement released by Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) a week ago, the technical and development committee has proposed friendly matches for the national team in October.

Despite lack of football action in the Zimbabwean league, a number of Warriors players are playing competitively in the South African ABSA premiership and across European leagues.

Federation Association of Zambia (FAZ) has also stepped up gear in preparation as the squad is expected to be called on camp soon.

Speaking to Zambian media a week ago, Chipolopolo gaffer Millutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic confidently believes they can turn around fortunes in the group and qualify for Afcon finals despite rallying at the bottom of the table.

Chipolopolo also boasts of foreign based players making strides in the ABSA premiership and leagues across the World while African champions Algeria’s squad composes of majority team members plying their trade in the European leagues.

Reached for comment on the matter, BFA mouthpiece Tumo Mpatane said the association is currently working out possible logistics to prepare the Zebras for the qualifiers.

“We have notified our mother body the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) of the November qualifiers and awaiting the green light. It is a fact that we have not been active for a long time and if we are allowed, we will engage in a more concentrated camp to catch up ahead of the matches,” Mpatane told The Telegraph.

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