Monday, March 1, 2021

Zebras return to happy hunting ground

The last time the Zebras were in the city of Francistown, thousands of football fans left with smiles on their faces after watching the local heroes doing the unthinkable, beating African giants Burkina Faso 1-0 in the 2017 African Nations Cup qualifier on September 5. The game was played in a thrilling atmosphere; the first of its nature since the days when Serbian coach Veselin Jelusic was still at the helm of the Zebras.

During this game the stadium was fully packed and the atmosphere was electrifying. More so, the football followers in the region could not contain their joy as they invaded the pitch at the end of the game to congratulate their heroes. While it is well known that both FIFA and CAF do not condone pitch invasion, football followers could be pardoned because it was the first time the Zebras played an official match in the northern part of the country. The celebrations which followed the match were unbelievable and the rain could not even stop the energetic fans from celebrating.

Since the hard fought win against the Burkinabe, there have been calls for the next official match to be played in the Ghetto. The football authorities seem to have taken heed to the call as the Zebras will land at Francistown International Airport in the early hours of tomorrow to prepare for the return leg of the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Eritrea penciled for Francistown Sports Complex on Tuesday night (October 13).

In an interview with the SUNDAY STANDARD on Friday afternoon, Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer Kitso Kemoeng said after the Zebras last match attendance, there was no doubt about where their next match would be played. “We were humbled by the attendance of our game against Burkina Faso. Even the atmosphere throughout the match was something else. I’m appealing to the football community to once again rally behind the Zebras in large numbers. The coach is trying to build a strong squad for the future and I think there is progress in that regard,” said Kemoeng.

While they were impressed with the attendance, Kemoeng noted that the pitch invasion in the end spoiled everything. “If we win, it is important for us to contain our excitement because we were fined P50, 000 for the pitch invasion. At the moment, we’re putting mechanisms in place to prepare for the match. The Local Organising Committee and the Police are working together to ensure that we have enough security in place, more especially that the match will be played at night,” Kemoeng added.

At the time of going to press, BFA were working around the clock to change the kick off time from 7pm to 8pm to allow for live broadcast.

Deputy Divisional Traffic Officer North, Pelontle Kesupile has appealed to the football followers to park their cars along Francistown-Borolong (A3) road to reduce traffic congestion. He added that they have asked the roads department to erect temporary road signs along A3 as a preventive measure. Kesupile added that the police will protect cars which will be parked inside and outside the stadium.

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