Zebras coach relaxes strict rules for players

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By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana senior national soccer team coach, Adel Amrouche, has stubbed out some of his strict rules on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Botswana has been drawn in Group H against Zimbabwe, Algeria and Zambia in what has been termed a group of death.

Initially, the disciplinarian who faced criticism after omitting some players who had been suspended for allegedly consuming alcohol while on national duty, had named a 25-man squad on 11th November that did not include the suspended quartet.

But on 13 November, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) announced that one of the four players, Mothusi Cooper, had been added to the 26-man Zebras squad.

 “Mothusi will be a welcome addition to the midfield set up,” the association said in a terse statement.  For his part, the diminutive player apologised and thanked BFA and the technical team for giving him yet another opportunity to represent the country.

The senior team assembled on 11 November in preparation for the two back-to-back games against Zimbabwe on 15 November and Algeria on the 18th.

Following his decision to suspend the players, Amrouche brushed off criticism from some observers that he was being harsh on the players when he suspended them. The critics include among others, former Zebra coach Peter Butler.

But it appears the disciplinarian has climbed down on his perceived harsh stance by including Cooper in the squad as well as ensuring that his team is a mixture of youngsters and seasoned players who have experience in international games. 

Among those called up is Malta-based winger Kabelo Seakanyeng who had missed previous Zebra matches due to work permit issues. Another European based player who has been called up is Mpho Kgaswane who is at Azerbaijani side Zirah FC. Amrouche has also called up veteran midfielder Ofentse Nato after missing out on previous calls.

The BFA has since revealed that it is working on a draft code of conduct for national team players.

Reports say that the players were allegedly caught drinking during the recent game against Malawi, where Botswana lost 0-1, thereby ending its dreams of participating in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

This week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane told The Southern Times: “Our legal team and Football Association of Botswana have been working on finer details. We anticipate to conclude on it soon.”

BFA president Maclean Letshwiti has since revealed that deliverables for the newly appointed include among others, winning the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) cup’s edition next year, qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals (Afcon) and improving the national team’s FIFA rankings.

 

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