Botswana suffer double COSAFA blow
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – Botswana’s national team bowed out of the COSAFA Cup just 90minutes into this year’s edition when they went down 2-1 to Zambia’s Under-20 side in Rustenburg over the weekend.
It marked a second blow for the country after top referee, Joshua Bondo was sent home for his poor handling of the Zimbabwe and Madagascar tie last week Wednesday.
Bondo was accused of failing to award Zimbabwe two ‘clear’ penalties towards the end of the group stage tie.
The COSAFA referees committee took a decision to expel him, and the referee returned home on Friday, and later that evening, was crowned Botswana’s best referee for the just ended league season.
The following day, the Zebras came unstuck against a youthful Zambia side which recently reached the quarter finals of the Under-20 World Cup.
The Zebras, who had threatened not to fulfil the fixture due to unpaid allowances, found themselves in deficit as early as the 10th minute when Brian Mwila profited from some slack marking to fire home the opener.
The Botswana side fought bravely after going behind early and put the Junior Chipolopolo defence under some real pressure.
Zebras’ caretaker coach, Boyo ‘Oris’ Radipotsane, in charge of his first game, fielded a full strength team, but could only watch as Zambia increased their advantage in the 69th minute when his own defender, Resco Mosimanyana miscued past goalkeeper,Mwampule Masule.
The Zebras faced a mammoth task to erase the two goal deficit but were thrown a life line in the 76th minute when substitute, Thabang Sesinyi was fouled in the box, and the player picked himself up, only to see Zambian keeper, Allen Chibwe beat away the effort.
Two minutes later, the Zebras halved the arrears through winger, Kabelo Seakanyeng, but it proved too little too late as the Zambians comfortably held out to move on to the semi finals. The Zebras were left to contest for the plate final with hosts, South Africa on Tuesday.
Coach Radipotsane blamed the early goal, which unsettled his charges. He did not want to say if the player strike prior to departure for South Africa, had an impact on the game.
The Zebras had a difficult build-up when the team had to endure a late night drive to Rustenburg after players had downed tools over unpaid allowances.
The arrears date back to 2015 and the government has taken over the debt, with the players expected to be paid on return from South Africa.
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) is P10million in the red and conceded it is difficult to consistently meet financial obligations.