By Bakang Mhladi
GABORONE- IT WILL be business as usual in the Botswana Premier League with the national team inactive for the umpteenth time during a FIFA week, which paves the way for the Mascom Top 8 cup ties to proceed.
It has become a familiar yet frustrating situation for Briton, Peter Butler, who yearns for friendly matches but the Botswana Football Association has thus far delivered little.
The Zebras were last in action during an inconsequential Independence Day friendly match against Angola on September 30. That might be the last time the Zebras kicked a ball in 2016, with no further fixtures planned.
The BFA, P10 million in the red, has argued it has no money to organise friendly matches and has instead channelled priorities elsewhere, with concluding the delayed local league top of the list.
While other national teams would be in action this weekend, the BFA said it would instead focus its energy on the COSAFA Under-20 team selection.
The COSAFA tournament runs from December 7 to 16 in the North West, South Africa. Botswana has been drawn in the same group with hosts, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
BFA public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane, said with the Zebras out of contention for both the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, energies had to be directed elsewhere.
“Unfortunately, we’re not active as you know we’re out of both the World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. We also did not receive any challenge for a friendly match,” he said.
“As BFA, we took a deliberate decision to focus our efforts on the Under-20 side. We’re very much aware that (inactivity) can affect our rankings, but at the same time the rankings are usually not a true reflection.”
Botswana’s Under-20 technical team will be announced next Wednesday. David Kopi and George Mogopodi are expected to be named in the technical team but national team coach, Butler, had expressed his wish to have more control of the team as it serves as a feeder to the senior side.
With the Zebras inactive, it would be business as usual with the second leg of the Mascom Top 8 ties proceeding.
Three of the four quarter final ties precariously hang in the balance after two ended deadlocked while in the third, Township Rollers hold a slender 1-0 advantage over Police XI.
BDF XI appear the only side with one firm foot in the semi-final after bashing Gaborone United 3-1 while there is all to play for in the other two ties. Miscellaneous host defending champions, Orapa United in Serowe with the match delicately poised at 0-0, the same score in the match between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Jwaneng Galaxy.
The first match sees Orapa making the short trip to Serowe to face Miscellaneous on Friday, while GU’s Herculian Task against BDF XI is on Saturday. On Sunday, Bongani Mafu takes his Chiefs side to Jwaneng Galaxy before Rollers play Police XI in
Gaborone on Monday night.
The winners of the tournament pocket P1.2 million (approx. US$120,000).