Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What’s next Mr. Rowe?

Following the Zebras’ 0-4 humiliation by the “Sparrows” of Mauritania last week, it is inevitably back to the drawing board for the Botswana Football Association and all stakeholders.

Talk and more sour talks are brewing among national team diehards- someone must take the blame for the Zebras’ lacklustre performance against continental minnows.

Some will naively pass on the blame to the tactics of the coach employed on the fateful day. Far from it, the poor coach cannot be accused on the basis of tactics. However, he is a not an angel either, as he has to account for the loss, but in a rather strange way.

Ernest Tladi of Gaborone West told Sunday Standard Sport that Mauritania cannot beat the Zebras any day.

“It is not Mauritania who beat us. We beat ourselves. The morale of the players was at an all time low. It all started before the team jetted off and I do not need a doctoral degree to deduce that the guys were also affected by the Selolwane- Gabonamong saga. People can make excuses that Mauritania used ineligible players, the fact is that we were supposed to compete as we have always done,” said a fuming Tladi.

The two Zebras kingpins, Dipsy Selolwane and Mogogi Gabonamong, indefinitely retired from the Zebras activities at the eleventh hour. Logically, this was bound to have a go at the team’s morale, given the fact hat the two players are vital cogs in the side. Matter of fact- Selolwane and Gabonamong are professional players. Whether or not they were recommended to their current employers donning the Zebras jersey is a non-starter, and one who perceives things on those lines must “wake up” from that hyper-charged sleep.

The whole issue puts the coach in a straight jacket because he is aware that with all the country’s best players on board, the team can do better. The issue is not that the association should have paid the players the money they needed, but a dialogue should have taken place to show the seriousness that “some” people claim to be preaching.

Boxer Mabotsa of Bontleng is of the view that there is something not right with the BFA. Reacting to a joint press release from the BFA President and Chief Executive Officer last week, Mabotsa had this to say:

“People running our football should not be making inflammatory statements about the two players because they are not helping the course of the team. That is gross irresponsibility at its best. It just shows that people are not willing to try. How can they say that other locally-based players contribute to the team more than the professional players? Even if that was true, is it a statement that can come from a person of authority, who seemingly has the interests of all the players at heart? Do they want to divide our team?”
Part of the press release read;

“…we need your assistance to educate our players that it is not always about what my country has done for me, but also about what I have done for my country as well. Professional players, for example, have been attracted to their professional teams because they were identified playing for their respective countries…Other professional players from other countries have gone out to offer incentives to their home based teammates in appreciating the circumstances and economic situations in their countries.”

This did not go down well with a prominent Gaborone businessman.

“Don’t these people appreciate what these boys have sacrificed for the country? These players do not owe it to anybody. Sometimes they even don’t play their best football in Zebras jerseys because of the exploitation they get at the hands of the same officials. I know of one player, who happens to be my nephew, who caught the eye of a South African team playing for his club. Upon seeing him struggling, together with his Zebras teammates, the South African club reversed their quest for his services. Besides, Dipsy and Mogogi were selected to the Zebras because of their natural talents,” he said.

Priority number one though is that people must get back to the drawing board. It’s a pity coach Rowe has to be thrown in a hot pond so early. Knowing Batswana very well this is not a good situation to be in because they need results, irrespective of the circumstances.

Powers that be must persuade the Cape Town Santos players to return to the Zebras fold because, without them, the team will be forever limping. Knowing the two players very well, they are currently vicariously in pains because of the loss to the “Sparrows of Mauritania.”

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.