Search for Botswana national soccer gaffer intensifies

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Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana Football Association (BFA) has intensified its search for a new national head coach following the departure of local head coach, David Bright, who was shown the exit door in February this year.

Bright was fired by BFA following a string of poor performances, among them, failing to guide the Zebras, as the soccer national team is known to its hordes of fans, to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.

Regarded as one of the most successful coaches in the country, Bright, who has also coached some teams in the elite league in neighbouring South Africa, also failed to improve the team’s FIFA rankings.

Bright was appointed in 2017, succeeding Peter Butler. The team only managed one point in the AFCON qualifiers.

The BFA has since revealed that the advertisement for the post has attracted more than 40 applications from across the world. The association added that the number has been trimmed to six, from where the chosen one will emerge. While BFA did not mention names, few names have been mentioned to the speculative list of coaches to fill the Zebras vacancy.

Speculation has swirled around former Zebras coaches Peter Butler and Jelusic Veselin while the name of former local top football club coach, Township Rollers' Nikola Kavazovic, was also thrown in the mix.

Currently, local coach Mogomotsi Mpote is holding fort on an interim basis and it is unclear if he has made the shortlist.

In a statement released last week, the association said: “Leading the national team to glory is a BFA priority and the successful candidate will need all the criteria to re-ignite the pride of the nation.

“Botswana football, being on the edge of a new era of football culture and development, is looking for a highly qualified coach with international and national football knowledge and experience for the senior national team.”

The statement further stated: “Together with the senior national team coaching staff, medical staff, he will lead the programme and the preparation of the senior national team towards international games and qualifying tournaments.”

Reports indicate that the new coach is expected to take charge of the team after the COSAFA Cup, which is currently taking place in Durban, South Africa. The Zebras have have secured their 2020 CHAN second round qualifying date against Chipolopolo of Zambia after winning 3-1 in Victoria, Seychelles, to advance to the next round of the CHAN 2020 on an aggregate score of 5-1 after winning the home leg 2-0. The final leg is scheduled for July 28 in Lusaka.

The winner will advance to the final qualifying round in September.

The Zebras’ poor performance has not gone unnoticed by the country’s political authorities. Recently, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama, was quoted by the Daily News as saying that the BFA up their game.

Khama, who has met with BFA officials four times since his appointment, was quoted as saying that he was disappointed that the Zebras did not qualify for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, despite a significant budget allocation.

He reportedly said the country’s football governing body was receiving funds from FIFA and government.

“I am not happy with the state of affairs at BFA. So I want them to account and explain how they use their funds. I was informed that the players reported late for camp when they were preparing for their clash with Angola,” he was quoted as saying.

Khama was also quoted as saying that the Zebras were not doing well due to the fact that the association was failing to retain coaches. He pointed out that the status quo had made it difficult for the national team to be consistent.

 

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