Friday, July 1, 2022

Unhappy Diamond Zebras depart for Youth Championships

The 10th African Under-17 Championships resume in Casablanca, Morocco, on Saturday but the Diamond Zebras left for the competition under a dark cloud.

There are reports of unhappiness in the camp, with the players having left without getting their allowances. When the team left, they were without head coach Kaizer Kobedi who was still to be released by his employers at the University of Botswana.  Kobedi had to ask for leave days from his work in order to be able to join the team in time for the games. Before he left the country on Thursday afternoon, Kobedi hit at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) for trying to sabotage him and his team.

“We’re going there as an unhappy lot but we’re putting our faith in God. There are lots of things which have not gone well ahead of these games. It would have been nice to travel as a team but these are some of the things one has to stand. I hope in the future BFA will put their house in order and ensure that teams travelling for such games get all the necessary preparations,” said a fuming Kobedi.

The Diamond Zebras were supposed to go and have their final training camp in Spain but the trip was called off without the knowledge of the technical department. Instead the lads went to a Future Champions tournament in Gauteng, South Africa.

“Despite the problems we’ve faced, we have told ourselves to go out there and fight. This is a chance for the team to showcase their talent and leave a lasting impression. Our target is to get out of the group stage and whatever happens after that will be a bonus,” Kobedi said.

The Diamond Zebras are in Group A alongside hosts Morocco, Tunisia and Gabon. They open the tournament with a tricky fixture against Tunisia in Casablanca on Saturday (kick off 6pm). They will then take on Morocco before moving to Marakesh for the last group game against Gabon.

“Morocco and Tunisia play the same style of football and we’ll do our best to get something out of the two games. The first game is very crucial and that is the game which will definitely determine our destiny. It will be tough against Gabon but I’ve no doubt that the boys will rise to the occasion,” the coach said with a bit of confidence. The Diamond Zebras had a difficult road in reaching the tournament in North Africa. They beat Malawi, Rwanda and Algeria on their way. Interestingly, all the matches were won after post-match penalties.

Kobedi said having taken all the players who played in the qualifiers, he has no doubt that they will stand their own.

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