Botswana football disappoints as athletics soars

By Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE – Athletics, Botswana’s goose that has consistently laid the golden egg, continued its upward trajectory, while pampered football turned up the usual dose of disappointment.   

On Friday, Isaac Makwala and young Baboloki Thebe continued to fly the Botswana flag high with podium finishes at the Monaco Diamond League race.

After a stellar run in Madrid a fortnight ago where he ran a stunning 200m/400m double, Makwala was back to his usual best as he pushed world 400m champion, Wayde van Niekerk before settling for second.

The South African piped Makwala into second in a fierce 400m race while Baboloki Thebe ensured a thrilling 1-2-3 finish for Southern Africa.

This means the trio has qualified for the 400m Diamond League finals in Brussels on August 24.

Thebe has been the leading 400m athlete in the Diamond League and has done well in his second season.

Makwala was a late entry after early poor season form but the experienced runner has powered into the finals as he had to finish in the top three in Monaco.

Van Niekerk set a meeting record after he ran 43.73 seconds while Makwala trailed just behind, crossing the line after 43.83. Thebe stopped the watch after 44.26.

The finals will have a new twist with the entrance of defending champion, LaShawn Merritt who poses a great danger to the trio.

But before the Diamond League showdown, there is the London World Championships business to take care of starting on August 5. Nijel Amos is the other Botswana athlete through to the finals of the Diamond League as he has secured his berth in the 800m.

While Botswana athletics has remained the undisputed number one discipline, the most favoured and financed, football continues to disappoint.

The national senior side, the Zebras were dumped out of the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers after a 3-0 aggregate loss to neighbours South Africa.

Ryan Moon, who was on target in the first leg, proved to be a thorn in the Botswana side’s flesh again in the return fixture on Saturday with a second, just 13minutes into the contest.

It has been a disastrous year for the Zebras, who are winless in 2017 and face a mammoth task to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The Zebras lost the opening AFCON qualifier 1-0 to Mauritania last month in a group that also contains Burkina Faso and Angola.

The return of former army officer, David Bright has not brought back the immediate spark, amid reported boardroom squabbles within the Botswana Football Association (BFA).

July 2017
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