Women football continues to haunt Botswana Football Association (BFA). Following the withdrawal from the FIFA under 20 qualifiers against Kenya, the BFA faces yet another challenge of competing in the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) women senior tournament scheduled for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe from 13-24 September 2017.
After the disappointing withdrawal, BFA cannot afford to let down the COSAFA tournament organisers. The COSAFA tournament has since attracted about 12 regional teams ready to compete. However the BFA has not yet called the national team for camp, raising doubts and suspicion of whether the long-suffering senior women’s team will compete. The national team coach Nkutlwisang Gaoletlhoo, popularly known as Ronaldo is expected to lead the ladies team to Bulawayo. BG sport is informed that BFA executive meeting sat this past Monday and the ladies team was on the agenda.
Women football structures have been inactive for some time due to lack of funding. BFA failed to send the U20 ladies team to Kenya for a return match after receiving a 7-0 thrashing by their Kenyan peers at Lobatse sports complex recently. The cash strapped association was quick to cite lack of funding for the embarrassing withdrawal. The COSAFA tournament included the local ladies team even though the association is yet to decide on their participation.
When commenting on the matter this week BFA spokeperson Tumo Mpatane said women’s football has over the years experienced growth in terms of players’ participation and attracting supporters. The number has improved from eight teams in the 2011 edition, which was also staged in Zimbabwe. Mpatane said FIFA recently doubled its funding for women’s football-specific programmes for the years 2015-2018.
The COSAFA nations that have entered the championship are Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and hosts Zimbabwe. The 11 COSAFA members will be joined by Kenya as a guest nation. COSAFA Women’s Championship inaugural was held in Zimbabwe in 2002 and was won by South Africa after beating their hosts 2-1 in the final.
Banyana Banyana repeated their feat 4 years later in Zambia, when they beat Namibia 3-1 at the finals. SA won it for the third successive time in 2008 in Malange, Angola, beating Zimbabwe in the finals. Zimbabwe managed to win 1-0 against Banyana in 2011, making the host nation the defending champions. The sides will be using this tournament to qualify for the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, to be staged in Ghana from next November. The tournament will also be used as qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Meanwhile, the COSAFA draw made this week in Johannesburg, SA saw Botswana ending up in Group C alongside Lesotho, South Africa and Namibia.