Zebras’ preparations for the 2012 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) were dealt a serious blow when their proposed international friendly game against South Africa was called off on Monday afternoon.
The Zebras were supposed to face Bafana Bafana on November 15 in a game which had drawn a lot of interest amongst local football supporters. Earlier on Monday morning, Botswana Football Association (BFA) acting chief executive officer, Tlhagiso Sethibe, confirmed that South Africa Football Association (SAFA) had approached them for a friendly game.
“We’re trying to negotiate with Nigeria for a friendly game away on November 12 and then we’ll go face South Africa on November 15th. We’re hopeful to get a response from them (Nigeria) as the games would be used as part of the preparations for the African Cup of Nations,” said Sethibe. It is understood that later on the day, BFA received an email from SAFA office in Johannesburg calling off the game.
When contacted for comment, SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani referred this publication to chief executive officer, Robin Peterson, whose phone rang unanswered.
A source with SAFA offices said, “It is true that the clash between Botswana and South Africa has been called off. The main reason is that SAFA is conducting internal investigations over Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the African Nations Cup. The technical team will also be brought forward to explain the failure so the executive committee felt it would not be right to go on with the game.”
Interestingly, the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup game between South Africa and Ivory Coast penciled for the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth Stadium will go on as scheduled.
“There was no way SAFA could cancel that game because it is in honour of a statesman and there are lot of things involved,” said the source.
Zebras’ coach Stanley Tshosane was disappointed that SAFA had called off the game, saying it hampers his preparations for the continental showpiece. “The CEO has informed us about the cancellation but the most important thing is that we could have planned for this long time back.
Right now, it is very difficult to get friendly games against tougher opponents. We’ll wait and see because we’ll be going into camp on Sunday,” said Tshosane.
Recently, the national team coach attacked the association for not supporting his technical team in preparations for AFCON. His interview, which was aired on national television, touched the hearts of many football supporters who demanded that the executive committee steps down.
BFA president David Fani responded with a four-page statement which many people dismissed. Late on Monday, our sources at BFA revealed that BFA has now turned to Uganda and Senegal for the friendly game on November 15. It is said that Senegal have suggested that if Senegal agrees to face Botswana, the game will be played in France.