For a positive change, the ladies senior national football team, the Mares, have the nation all pumped up ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifier games.
Life has undoubtedly been breathed into the once struggling Botswana ladies side. The Brave Gladiators of Namibia can attest to the fact that the current Mares’ form is nothing they have experienced during any of their previous encounters. Coach Gaolothoo Nkutusang’s side left Namibia all miserable and kicked to a very lonely place in a period of five days. During the first leg of the Olympic qualifiers played in Gaborone this past Friday, the Mares walked into the pitch oozing with nothing but clear confidence.
The cool breeze emanating from the fast approaching winter season sent chills down the spine even before the game started. Perhaps indicating that, what was in store in the 90 minutes was not anticipated.
From the whistle blow, the local side made their intentions clear and it did not come as a surprise when Refilwe Tholakele eventually found the back of the net to silence any hopes of Namibia pinning Botswana to a goalless draw. All breathing gaps were entirely blocked by team Botswana and the Namibians found all their ball tricks fly off the window as they desperately pushed for an equalizing goal. The audience interestingly had not disappointed either, the attendance was quite impressive and perhaps the ladies picked the positive energy and converted it to a performance of blazing ferocity.
When playing a return leg of the game in Namibia this past Tuesday, the local girls cemented their bold statement that they mean business. An early goal from the Gladiators did not anyhow dampen their spirits, and if anything, the ladies came out fiercer than ever. Namibia had at the back of their minds anticipated that they would use the home ground advantage. It all came falling down when Botswana equalized the scores to tie the Brave Gladiators to a 2-2 score line. This meant that the Mares on aggregate, qualified for the next round of the Olympic qualifiers. It is an achievement that the Mares have effortlessly worked for. Namibia has in the past been a pain to deal with and for more than a decade; Botswana has never been able to penetrate the Namibian defence.
It is victory that will surely go down the history books and perhaps a new era for Botswana football. Given the dullness that had engulfed women football locally, an improvement in performance can perhaps lighten up the mood. The ladies are eagerly hoping to gain the recognition that has surrounded men football.
Nevertheless, Botswana will once again be forced to prove that the stellar performance against Namibia was not a fluke. A tough assignment in South Africa’s Banyana Banyana awaits the local ladies in the next round. There can never be any better time to once again challenge the menacing side of Banyana Banyana. Botswana’s last encounter with the South African based side was during the 2018 COSAFA group stages.
Banyana Banyana had at the time struggled to break the Mares defence and just when SA thought that they were nearer to netting more goals, goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija of Botswana proved to be another hurdle Banyana Banyana was never ready for.
Bosija blocked every little chance of SA scoring and even denying them a clear given penalty. It was only in the dying minutes of the game that Botswana handed their opponents their much-needed goal.
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.
The Zebras will be expected to maintain the winning spirit set by local netball team alive when they host Bafana Bafana at the Francistown Sports Complex.
The tournament is on its fifth season and the nation is hopeful the local boys will keep the fire burning. The newly appointed national team coach Major David Bright will this weekend lead Zebras against its rivals in the COSAFA region. The newly appointed coach pleaded for support from football loving community as he is till building a team.
The first CHAN competition was staged in Ivory Coast in 2009 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo won the inaugural competition. The teams were increased to 16 at the second tournament held in Sudan in 2011, which was won by Tunisia. The Zebras followers will be hopeful the local lads will continue to impress at the second city after stumbling over Mauritania in an Afcon qualifier.
The two teams played 10 times with Bafana dominating the statics. Zebras lost 6 of the 10 encounters and 4 draws since 1993 when South Africa was readmitted to FIFA membership.
The coach recalled Thabo Motang to his technical team and they called four goal minders for their first camp. The Mascom top 8 winning goalkeeper Anthony Gouws of Jwaneng Galaxy finally received a much deserved call up to the team. Michael James from the rookies Black Forest also impressed the coaches. Gaborone United goalkeeper Goitseone Phoko returned to the squad after battling with injury a few years ago.
Bright and Mogwadi rewarded their faithful servants with national team call up. The zebras ignored the hardship Police XI endured to sustain their BPL status, calling four players in Leririma, Senwelo, Gadibolae and Moyo.
The back line will be marshalled by three Rollers players –Mosha Gaolaolwe, the 2016/17 player of the season nominee Simisane Mathumo and Bogosi Kaekwe, Thabo Leinanyane of Galaxy, Kaelo Kgaswane from Security Systems, Onkabetse Seforo of BDF XI and Letsweletse Leririma.
The midfielders are Police XI stars Letlhogonolo Senwelo and the hardworking Tapiwa Gadibolae, Richard Legwaila -BDF XI, Lemogang Maswena -Orapa United, the 2016/17 player of the season Lemponye Tshireletso has also been rewarded with captain’s arm band, Thero Setsile -Jwaneng Galaxy.
Bright brought a youngster Godiraone Modingwane from his former club Morupule Wanderers, Tumelo Mazebedi -Security Systems, Thatayaone Kgamanyane -Black Forest.
The attackers are Thabang Sesinyi -Jwaneng Galaxy, the GU striking partnership of Tumisang Orebonye and Kabelo Seakanyeng, the ever hustling Hendrick Moyo from Police XI.
The time is now for veteran coach Boyo ‘Oris’ Radipotsane. The experienced local coach has found himself in daunting position of leading the Zebras in their 2017 COSAFA Castle cup campaign against Zambia this Saturday.
The game, scheduled for Moruleng, South Africa, will give the caretaker coach an opportunity to prove himself after moving through the ranks in BFA structures. Radipotsane, a prominent and beloved figure in local football circles, has managed the National under 17, 20 and 23 development teams.
However Radipotsane has a torrid task of leading the Zebras to their first ever COSAFA Castle Cup triumph after departed British coach Peter James Butler failed to bring the highly sought after cup to the long suffering Zebras supporters.
Radipotsane may be dubbed as a development coach, more similar to his predecessor Peter Butler. Nonetheless the coach has proven that his tactical cognizance is unmatched, having proven to work with limited resources. Previously, Radipotsane managed shock the local football fraternity by leading Motlakase Power Dynamos of Palapye to the Coca Cola Cup final in 2011.
Known for his soft-spoken demeanor and trademark hoarse voice, Radipotsane has proven to be a motivator having pulled legendary upset victories against more fancied rivals with his beloved Motlakase. Radipotsane and Motlakase have claimed famous scalps including Gaborone United, BDF XI and Uniao Flamingo Santos.
The former Zebras and Township Rollers player is a highly tactical mentor, he disguises as one of the most cautious coaches in the country with an Italian philosophy of starting the ball from the back, modestly shying away from conceding.
Having assumed his role as assistant Coach of the Zebras in 2015 supporters have always adjudicated the coach as a laidback and voiceless assistant, who could not aid Butler when the chips are down and some believe his relationship is not at a stage of owning the players hearts.
The COSAFA Cup and the upcoming CHAN tournament will come about as Radipotsane’s litmus test, a good performance in both tournaments will mean the hoarse voiced coach earns himself a full time contract as the Zebras coach.
It is now official. The Zebras head coach Peter James Butler has parted ways with the Botswana Football Association (BFA). Speculation has been rife this week that South African Premier League side Platinum Stars will announce Butler as their new head coach at any point from now.
The BFA confirmed via a press statement this week, that they have parted ways with the coach following a consultative meeting. “Peter joined the Association in 2014 and has served this country to the best of his abilities in the capacity of head coach of the Zebras.
“We are grateful to Peter for his service and time, we wish him well in future endeavours,” the BFA press statement reads. “Oris Boyo Radipotsane will step up from his role as assistant coach to head coach in the interim. He will lead the Zebras to the COSAFA senior challenge scheduled from June 25 to July 9th.”
During his tenure at the helm of Zebras for the past three years, the British coach and former West Ham United player has not achieved much. In essence many local football pundits would agree that Butler is more suited to development than managing a senior national team. Despite failing to qualify for any top tier competitions including Africa Cup of Nations and FIFA World Cup, Butler has proved to be an outstanding talent scout.
Bold, brash and confrontational, the Englishman has also proved to be a hard worker having scoured the length and breadth of the country searching for new talent in his sponsored VW Amarok. Perhaps his relentless emphasis on unearthing new talent and developing future national team players was Butler’s downfall as Zebras coach.
The local football community - both knowledgeable and casual - watched Butler with a close eye. His national team selection had become stuff of legends as supporters waited with bated breath to see which fresh face Butler would introduce next to the Zebras’ fold. However, Butler’s shrewd and rather risky experiments never paid dividends and made him a polarising figure among supporters.
The Zebras last game, an Afcon 2019 qualifier against Mauritania, might have been a watershed moment between Butler, the BFA and supporters after his 1-0 loss at Francistown Sports Complex. After the loss Butler’s experimental antics of mixing the new and old weighed too heavy on depressed Zebras supporters who are thirsty for a win even if it means applying quick fixes.
With Butler having abandoned the cash-strapped BFA, options for a replacement are limited. There is however, assistant coach Boyo ‘Oris’ Radipotsane, former coach Stanley Tshosane and potential dark horse Daniel ‘Chico’ Nare. Jwaneng Galaxy’s Mike ‘Dubula’ Sithole and Orapa United’s Madinda Ndlovu can also be thrown into the mix. After taking over from Tshosane the Englishman has constituted an ever-changing squad failing to maintain a consistent first team.
When he arrived at Zebras Butler introduced his famous 3-5-2 formations Moreetsi Mosimanyana, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Thato Kebue, Tebogo Sosome, Thabang Mosige, Lesenya Ramoroka, Otlantshekela Mooketsi, Obonye Moswate and Boitumelo Mafoko have all been in the mix at the back. This meant that Butler could not produce a consistent and formidable defensive structure.
However in a system where the midfield is swamped and a three-man defence is set up, there is obviously no room for error from any of the three defenders. This meant three resilient defenders to understand each other and culminating in a neat and rather clean game. However Butler’s tactics often failed to uphold an unswerving backline as he resorted to rotating defenders with each game.
Moreover the calculating tactician has botched his tactics in the middle of the park. Likewise, consistency is no closer to Butler not with results only but also with selecting his starting lineup. Bonolo Phuduhudu and Thato Ogopotse once played Butler’s right-hand harvests in the midfield.
Nonetheless the Englishman rotated his axis once more, delegating the midfield role to the safeguarding duo of Ofentse Nato and Lebogang Ditsele, something which the fans enormously criticised citing that both Nato and Ditsele are exceedingly identical with their play and shouldn’t be fielded together.
As if this was not enough, Butler also handpicked Lesego Galenamotlhale and Arnold Mampori to engage in a midfield skirmish frequently. This sporadic midfield has contributed nothing, it has rather prompted attacking confusion in the past three years, something which the coach can’t pinpoint to this date.
At Zebras, Butler never possessed a perilous war chest, with his attacking force having scored more than three goals back in 2015 against a toothless Eritrea side at the famous Francistown Sports Complex.
Although he always relies on Mogakolodi Ngele, Segolame Boy, Onkabetse Makgantai, Omatla Kebatho and Joel Mogorosi to lead his front line, he is yet to discover the right candidate to play the leading role of a target man in his three years and six months stay with the team.
With that being said, Butler has been a good scout during his tenure, discovering prolific defenders like Lesenya Ramoroka, Thato Kebue, and Keolopile Molemi. He also discovered elegant midfielders like Arnold Mampori, Joseph Joseph and Lethogonolo Senwelo accommodating them into the national team set up.
The National Under 20 football team captained by Mochudi Centre Chiefs defender Thato Kebue is expected to face Lesotho tomorrow (Saturday) in the COSAFA Under 20 tournament at Moruleng, South Africa.
The team succumbed 2-0 to Swaziland in their opening game of the tournament on Wednesday afternoon.Despite decent number of experienced players in the youthful team the result comes as a dent to their campaign. A few months ago the senior national Zebras gave a good account of themselves reaching the finals of the 2016 COSAFA Castle cup tournament where they lost to South Africa. The Under 20 national team dubbed Diamond Zebras is led by the experienced young players including defender Thato Kebue, Goitseone Legopelo, Michael Tinye and Thatayaone Dithokwe.The meticulous Township Rollers defensive midfielder Gape Mohutsiwa is also part of the team.
Coach George Mogopodi’s squad includes skillful Ocean Lottering, Thatayaone Maome, Ronald Fortune and the speedy winger Mothusi Cooper and prolific goal scorer Aobakwe Tshobo among others. However, all is not lost as the team awaits the next fixtures, which will decide their fate in the tournament. The team will battle it out with Lesotho on Saturday before engaging in what is expected to be war against bitter rivals South Africa on Monday. All the games will be played at the Moruleng Stadium and if the Zebras want to stay in the tournament they will have to win their next fixture.
Council of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) administration has applauded Botswana and other Southern African nations for fielding young and upcoming players to the regional showpiece.
Botswana displayed one of the best performances at the just-ended tournament after they made it to the finals before losing 3-2 on penalties to South Africa. Recently COSAFA boss Sue Destombies praised the efforts of regional teams that participated in the tournament sponsored by Castle lager. Destombies said the teams fielded younger players, which was a right step in the right direction for a tournament that is not fully supported by FIFA.
Destombies said the regional tournament provides a perfect platform for regional teams to build their strong national teams so that they can be competitive in international competitions. The remarks came after football critics complained that unlike previous editions, competing countries are not giving the regional tournament the seriousness it deserves, as they only send their second string teams that do not raise the profile of the tournament.
In this year’s COSAFA tournament most countries sent teams made up of young players or a mixture of the young and old guard. Angola set a good example after they fielded a youthful squad with some players under 19 years including the talented goalkeeper Joao Eduardo, who is only 15 years.
This was a welcome move on the road to building future Parlances Negros since the current team has failed to stand the rigorous demands against their African opponents to qualify for either 2017 Afcon and FIFA 2018 Russia world cup finals.
The same can be said for Bafana-Bafana who had sent their youthful team that has qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic games. On the other hand, the ever-evolving Botswana brought in their new guard dubbed the ‘future Zebras.’ Malawi also brought in a blend of young and experienced players.