The missing of the substantive U23 national team kit raised eyebrows earlier this week when the team had to use alternative attire against their Malawian counterparts in a high profile Afcon qualifier in Blantyre.
The U23 dubbed Dream Team lost 3-2 on aggregate to Malawi and exited the 2019 Afcon qualifiers. The loss of the national team kit follows another strange and bizarre incident when the senior national team had to leave without striker Onkabetse Makganthai when they faced Burkina Faso in a 2019 Afcon qualifier.
This week the BFA was quick to defend both their kit and team managers over both case. In an interview this week, BFA spokesperson, Tumo Mpatane said their team and kit managers are professional and experienced individuals.
“The issue has nothing to do with our kit manager, we have to protect him because he has done his job,” he said. The BFA mouthpiece blamed the kit mishap squarely on the airline service they used from Johannesburg to Blantyre, Malawi. “We checked in the bags at O. R international airport and once we arrived in Blantyre, we could not get our bags. The kit manager ensured that the bags were checked in at the airport and he report to us. We realised the bag were never loaded on the flight once we arrived in Malawi.”
Mpatane said they could not disclose the name of the airliner for professional reasons. Nevertheless, the Mpatane said they had to come up with a plan after consulting their technical sponsor over the matter. “We played the game with an alternative kit; the jerseys were ours but the shorts were not.”
Furthermore, Mpatane said the team luggage included both home and away kit. In the future, we will consider travelling with a third team kit, nevertheless there are issues of luggage and weight when we travel by air. The third kit set can be carried by individual players in their hand luggage.
Mpatane said the kit manager plays a crucial role in the team as he ensures that we have the right sizes, equipment for both the players and the technical team. He (kit manager) ensures that the kit is clean and other hygienic issues. It is his or her job to ensure that the equipment and kit arrives on time. “The issue was bizarre and unfortunate. These things happen even to at club level. Some of the biggest clubs in Africa face the same situations,” said Mpatane.