Fired for being a loose cannon

SHARE   |   Sunday, 24 May 2015   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
Fired for being a loose cannon
  • Pio Paul pays the price against shoddy BFA

In a dramatic day at Lekidi Centre – Botswana Football Association (BFA) headquarters – the U-23 coach addressed a press conference in the morning decrying the association’s blunders and a few hours down the line he was fired. That all happened on Wednesday.
Paul has also been relieved of his duties as assistant coach to the Zebras – the senior national team. 
Paul confirmed the ordeal but could not divulge any more information regarding his sacking. However, sources believe that the recent squad selection scandal involving the senior national football team and the U-23 teams could have caused the fall-out and ultimate dismissal.
BFA president Tebogo Sebego confirmed the sacking of the national U-23 coach. In a statement Sebego rubber stamped what people have been saying as it noted that both the association and Paul “have a variance of philosophy on player development”. It went on to say the coach was discharged following a spate of public statements, undermining the association leadership.
“The decision is therefore purely in the interest of protecting the integrity and image of the association,” read the statement. Some within the association have labelled Paul as a loose cannon who needed to be tamed. 
Paul had earlier on gone public displaying his displeasure about the way things were handled by the BFA. On Wednesday morning the coach condemned the association for releasing U-23 players to the senior national team without consulting him while he had to prepare and play against a very strong Zambian side on Friday in an Olympic qualifier. 
Paul said he was never part of the team selection even though he was both the U-23 coach and the Zebras assistant coach. His words came as a total contradiction to what his superior, BFA Technical Director Benny Kgomela said. According to Kgomela, prior to the selection of both teams there were consultations with both coaches.
However in the eyes of BFA the qualifiers are not anything more important than the COSAFA Cup which the senior team is involved in. According to Kgomela, BFA does not see any competition more important than the other, saying that is why they allowed Coach Peter Butler to take some of the U-23 players with him.
However prior his sacking Paul had said he was confident that the team he has assembled will produce desired results. He acknowledged that the absence of the other players such as Omaatla Kebatho and Mpho Kgaswane will affect them as they have dealt with it.
It was not the first time that Paul had a different view with BFA and went public. He was previously cautioned and all went back to normal. It is also reported that there has always been a bad blood between him and the technical director. The two once had a go at each other in public at some point in disagreement.  
According to the press release the hunt for Paul’s replacement has already commenced and the public will be notified immediately the person is found. BFA said this will not affect the U23 programme as it will continue. However by Thursday there were reports that the players were refusing to training in protest for the coach’s sacking.
Kgomela nonetheless dismissed the reports, saying they were made to blow things out of proportion. He said the boys trained without any issue and were paid all their allowances.

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