Many Batswana are happy that Botswana’s national team has made history by qualifying to make their maiden appearance at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
But that might come at a huge cost for teams that have many players in the national team.
The teams that normally dominate the Zebras are Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers. Both teams are leading the league and the former is six points clear at the top.
Botswana is making thorough preparations for the tournament that starts early January. The Zebras are already playing a series of friendly matches and, from mid December, they will be going for a training camp before the tournament starts.
On Saturday, the Zebras played the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Benin City and fought gallantly to force a goalless draw. Yesterday, they also played against Niger in Niamey.
Clearly, the players will be busy most of the time and this makes them prone to injuries and fatigue. Those teams with a few players or no players in the national team are less affected.
Looking at the way the Zebras’ selection stands, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Rollers might have about five players each in the final team for 2012 AFCON.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs spokesperson, Clifford Mogomotsi, expressed concern about the impact the Zebras might have on his team. He said Centre Chiefs might struggle in the second round.
“As Batswana, we are all happy that Botswana has finally made it to AFCON next year and they did that through the support of the teams. But some teams, like us, are going to pay dearly for that.
For instance, our players that are in the national team have never had rest after the league ended last season. They went for a training camp in South Africa and by the time it ended, the league had to start. Now it is a series of friendly matches for Zebras and by mid December, they have to go for a training camp again. After the training camp, the tournament itself will begin and if the Zebras progress beyond the group stages, the situation will be harder on us. Definitely, this is going to lead to some injuries and fatigue,” he said. Mogomotsi added that they cannot afford to miss any of the players in their second round matches. He also said they are already reeling from loss of their most experienced player, Michael Mohaladi, due to injury while on national duty.
Mohaladi has been missing from action for more than a year and his absence has also been a blow to the national team.
Mogomotsi also emphasized that they are going to suffer serious financial losses because they mostly rely on gate takings. He said since the league is going to end in the second week of December, they are going to struggle to pay their players.
“Most teams in this country rely on gate takings and towards the festive season is when most supporters come in their numbers. This might not be happening this time around and in January, there might not be league matches, especially if the Zebras do well,” he said.