Football administrators and analysts have condemned the withdrawal of local teams from the 2016 Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions. They say the move dents the image of Botswana football. Botswana will not have a representative in the CAF competitions this year following the pulling out of Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Gaborone United from the respective tournaments. Both teams have cited financial constraints as the main reason for pulling out of the continental competitions. Centre Chiefs communicated their intensions to pull out three weeks ago while GU withdrew from the competition just six days before their planned trip to Zanzibar.
Even though he said the withdrawals were not a problem Botswana Football Association (BFA) CEO Kitso Kemoeng is concerned with the teams’ late withdrawals. He said last minute withdrawals are an embarrassment to the country. He said it is not only an embarrassment but it is not good to the image of local football. “By doing this we are not casting the image of our football positively,” he said. Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) spokesperson Kgosana Masaseng concurred with Kemoeng. Masaseng said the absence from CAF by Botswana teams is not only an embarrassment but a huge loss to teams, players and even local football. He said pulling out does not only affect the image now but also have long term negative effects.
According to him, if teams do not compete in CAF competitions it in the end affects the quality of the national team. “In the long run this will have an effect on the national team as players would have had no exposure and the much needed experience,” warned Masaseng. He urged teams to start having proper planning as these developments negatively impact on the players. Masaseng argued that for Botswana to start exporting more players to international arenas their strengths must be tested through CAF competitions. “This is the platform the players can use to market themselves to international teams and if they are denied the chance it affects football growth in the country,” cautioned Masaseng.
This is exactly what Fabian Zulu had previously said concerning pulling out of CAF competitions. Zulu said it is essential for local players to play and test their strength against other African players from time to time. “CAF competitions help the country when it comes to the national team level as the players will be getting the exposure and experience needed to do well,” said Zulu. Masaseng blamed the current situation on the lack of vision and planning on the side of premier league teams, pointing out that they brought the problems to themselves. Previously teams were assisted by beMOBILE as the league sponsors with money for participation in CAF. However, Centre Chiefs spokesperson Clifford Mogomotsi revealed that this year the money was scrapped off by the sponsor.
Masaseng said there is an urgent need to repackage local football for it to start being attractive to more sponsors for easy financial follow. He pointed out that it is only the teams themselves that can correct the current situation. Some people are of a view that maybe Botswana can lodge a formal request to CAF for exemption from their competitions for the time being. Masaseng agreed to this, saying maybe it could be a better solution of save the face of Botswana football. He said this will give teams time to rebuild themselves and their strategies going forward. “Lesotho once did this and it worked for them. Maybe we should try this as well as it will save the image of our football as there will be no withdrawals,” said Masaseng.
However, Kemoeng is confident that this could be a thing of the past with the coming CAF club licensing. He said the club licensing will help improve clubs administration as well as improve financial inflow. “I believe that the CAF club licensing will be able to address these problems as clubs will now be run in a more professional manner,” said Kemoeng.