Friday, March 24, 2023

Tshosane was set up for failure

It was a coaching carousel that turned into one heck of a mucked mess. After leading the Botswana national team to its highest ever ranking of 95th Cowlyn Rowe suddenly hit a bad patch. Following a string of loses, unforgiving fans and managers lost patience with him. He was given a day to clear his desk and leave the country because fans were baying for his blood. It would take more than an ordinary mortal to pick up the pieces and try to piece them together while trying to settle on the hot seat. A few months later Stanley Tshosane stepped up to the plate. The new Zebras coach hit the ground running: In his first game in charge, the Zebras achieved an impressive 2ÔÇô1 win away to Mozambique to put them in a relatively strong position in their 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group. On their next fixture, they took everyone by surprise by holding C├┤te d’Ivoire to a 1ÔÇô1 draw.

The new coach had started off on the right foot and was in for a long run of luck. His crowning moment was when he made history by taking the Zebras to 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) that was co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea ÔÇô a first for Botswana. The Zebras coach and his charges had to go past some of the continent’s best to reach Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The whipping boys of Africa were suddenly taking no prisoners and among the dead bodies they scalped were Tunisia and Togo, the two hitherto invincible giants. Even Jelusic Vaseline, still touted as one of the best coach ever to grace Botswana was easy pickings for North African teams.

Vaseline played Morocco and Tunisia, suffering back-to-back defeats .His successor, Colwyn Rowe only managed a 0-0 draw at home against Egypt before suffering a 1-0 reversal in Cairo. But Tshosane beat Tunisia back to back at home and away and held Egypt to a 1 all draw. Under Tshosane, Zebras was on fire and the international press could not stop raving about their historic Afcon qualification.

Tshosane credited his impressive run on the many training camps he held to fine tune team formations, coordination and combinations. When the new administration under Tebogo Sebego took charge, there was suddenly a groundswell of discontent in Tshosane’s camp as players complained about their welfare. The coach was told he could not have the team in camp as long as he wished because the BFA was broke. Tshosane argued that if the national team could not be in camp long enough to be well prepared then it could not match other continental teams because the standard of the local league and local players was far below that of many countries in North and West Africa. Rumors started flying fast and thick that the new administration had their own man and wanted to get rid of Tshosane but could not because of it would cost the BFA a lot of money to terminate his contract. Besides, Tshosane had the backing of Zebras followers following his impressive record.

Ironically, it was Tshosane’s success that was his undoing. The high-flying coach flew too close to the sun. His unprecedented wins spoiled Zebras fans and taking the untested and ill-prepared team to the most competitive stage in the continent started his slow unravel. With discontent in his ranks and a hostile BFA leadership which was unwilling to commit money to prepare players for the big tournament, Tshosane could not bridge the prickly path from the changing room to the Lekidi top office.

It was when the inexperienced and ill prepared Botswana national team was weighed in the balances and found wanting at Afcon that Tshosane went from a football deity who could walk on water to a punchline among football fans after a series of embarrassing defeats in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

The coach even started to complain that he was not getting support from the current BFA leadership. Conspiracy theories were already raging that this was all part of a plan to push the Zebras coach.

As Zebras started suffering a run of losses, supporters started calling for Tshosane to step down. Rumors then started flying that the BFA had already started negotiating with a local coach to take over from Tshosane. There were even reports that the coach-in-waiting had already started talking to Zebras players and recruiting his technical team. The presence of Gaborone United coach, David Bright at Zebras press conferences ahead of international games did not help the uncertainty.

Last week, Tshosane finally received his dismissal letter while on his sick bed. On Thursday Sebego’s administration called a press conference where they announced Tshosane’s dismissal, citing poor performance. Quizzed about the training camps the Tshosane was always complaining, Sebego said there were insufficient funds but latter added that they did not see the importance of the camps because most Botswana players in the national team are professionals. “This is an issue that can be debated but I personally believe holding long camps was not viable because it was costly for us and sometimes most of the players called were sparingly used for the senior national team,” said Sebego.

One local coach who preferred anonymity stressed that the current BFA administration did not want Tshosane from the day they assumed office. “I also believe that Sebego is contradicting himself. He is saying holding camps for a long time is costly and at the same time he also says he does not see their importance. What is he trying to say here because he does not have the technical knowhow of the game like the coach? Results were coming when the team was in camp for some time and they did not come when the BFA decided to cut some of the training camps. The results were coming and the team even went to Afcon and now look where we are now,” he said. “Tshosane did not get the support he needed and for the team to succeed more money should be put in,” he said.


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