Sunday, May 26, 2024

Will local clubs really take part in African competitions?

Perhaps the last local team to participate in club African competitions was Township Rollers and Police XI. Rollers were knocked out by Angolan side, Inter Club de Luanda in 2006 and, a year later, Police XI fell victims to DRC side, TP Mazembe.

As time went by, local teams that were supposed to compete did not, giving flimsy excuses over financial challenges.

It was a disappointment and a step back for the development of soccer in Botswana. It has since shown that teams that do well in African club competitions pass their performance to the national team.

This means that if local teams do not take part football in the country would not progress.

North African teams are the dominant forces of African club competitions and their national teams are also doing well.

Egyptian sides are dominating African club competitions and the national team is doing extremely well.

It has also since been proven that there is not much difference between Botswana teams and those from other parts of Africa. This then means regular participation would guarantee success in the long run.

In 2005, BDF XI nearly shocked one the biggest teams in Africa, FC St Lui Lupopo of DRC. BDF XI won by a goal in Gaborone only to go down by two goals away in DRC.

Teams that have so far let Botswana down recently by not competing are the likes of Ecco City Green, BMC and Mochudi Centre Chiefs. The team that surprised many was Mochudi Centre Chiefs, which had an array of talent last season and won almost everything on offer.

They did not take part for what they said were financial reasons despite then being sponsored by Motiganz Diamond polishing company. Centre Chiefs always cited that Motiganz sponsorship would be for participation in Africa and why it latter did not happen remains a mystery.

This season, Gaborone United has just won the league championship while Uniao Flamengo Santos won the Coca-Cola Cup. Both teams vowed to compete in African competitions. It remains to be seen if they will fulfill their promises.

Should GU go on and compete, they might do better because the team has a depth of players that can sustain it even if they go all the way to the knock out stages.

Santos, on the other hand, has a thin squad and was fortunate to win the Coca-Cola Cup. It will be Santos’ first time to compete at this level.

The last time GU participated in the competition was 15 years ago when they played against Mozambique side, Ferroviaro de Maputo. They failed to defend the first leg’s 1-0 lead from home and lost by two goals in Maputo.
So far, only two teams stand as having done well in African club competitions.
In 1995, Notwane bowed out in the last 16 after losing to South African side Supersport United (then Pretoria City). After losing 2-1 in South Africa many thought Notwane would do better at home only to lose heavily by three goals without reply.

Rollers also nearly became the first local side to qualify for the group stages of the Africa club championships. They had a good run that saw big clubs, like Zesco United of Zambia falling by the way side.


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