Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Zebras might lose great opportunities because of stadiums unavailability

Many Batswana might be celebrating that Botswana will soon be playing against some of the world’s renowned teams in friendly games.

However, the excitement might be short-lived as the opportunity looks to be hanging in the air, following reports that the renovations at stadiums earmarked for the games have come to a standstill.

The Zebras are scheduled to play three important games against New Zealand and either against Iran or China.

The games were scheduled to be played at the University of Botswana (UB) stadium and the stadium might not be ready on time. At the initial stages the stadiums were supposed to be complete this month but the contractor who was involved in the project is reported to be no longer in charge and everything has come to a standstill and there are now uncertainties about the games.

Botswana is scheduled to play New Zealand on June 6 and later on against China or Iran.

What is, however, confusing the most is that concerned parties are economic with the information. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has so far released a team list for the New Zealand Game that comprises of local and foreign based players.

The Chiefs Executive officer of the BFA, Mooketsi ‘Tosh’ Kgotlele told Sunday Standard that they are always updated with the progress of the UB stadium but would not shed any light on it. He said they have since released the list of the Zebras because the stadium should be delivered for the game.

On whether the stadium would be ready for the game, Kgotlele would not answer and referred Sunday Standard to the Department of Sports and Recreation (DSR) and the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC).

“DSR and BNSC are the people who will tell you whether the stadium would be ready to host New Zealand. As the BFA we are preparing for the game and that’s why we have released a team list.”

Kgotlele also would not want to answer when asked whether there are contingency plans in case UB stadium is not ready.

“We are busy preparing for the game against New Zealand and it should be played at the UB stadium, that’s what I can tell you for now,” he said. The only stadium that could cater for the game is the National Stadium, but it is also still under refurbishment.

Efforts to contact BNSC were futile at the time of going to press.

The director of DSR, Falcon Sedimo, also did not want to shed any light and referred Sunday Standard to their Public Relations officer, Keneilwe Segopolo, who also could not be reached at press time.

If ever the games do not take place due to the unavailability of UB stadium, it would be a big blow to the country that is already inactive after being eliminated in second phase qualifications for 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup. Already, the BFA have since announced that an official statement will be availed this coming week regarding the Iran and China game.

The two overseas countries Botswana played against so far are Trinidad and Tobago in 2002 and a Brazilian select side last year during President Ian Khama’s inauguration.

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