A foolish man angers quickly, reads a verse from the bible. Kuper et.al (2009, pg79) once said,” Anyone who spends any time inside soccer soon discovers that just as much as oil is part of oil business, stupidity is part of football”. People will nonchalantly lament that when they fire a coach it always due to deficiency in performance owing to the agreed targets. The forlornly use these words with less consideration to the core facts. They will relate to relatively unattainable targets; disregard the team’s performance but only focus on tangible unrealistic targets. Football is a process and its development is a tedious process that an ordinary man cannot fathom lamely. Its exemplification is a process of building blocks takes ages to achieve since you trying to find combination of players from diverse environments, philosophies and playing cultures.
In Major David Bright, we didn’t only lose a coveted coach who knows the football Botswana to its core, but a coach who has diverse experience and has served Botswana football with distinction. Going into his accolades as a mentor at various teams and countries is a story for another day, but one worth mention is taking less fancied ENGEN Santos from the 14th position to position 3 in South Africa in his maiden season.
Peter James Butler was a darling of many Batswana. The Briton was given a three – year contract which he also saw through. During his tenure he played 42 games winning only 13, drawing 10 and losing 19 in the process. These games include all the competitions, AFCON, COSAFA, World Cup and friendlies. Notably, he was afforded 14 friendlies, which we could translate to 4 games a year, and he won only 6 of those and drew 3. His winning percentage was 47.6%, compared to Bright’s 4 friendlies in one and half years, with a winning return of 90.1%
The AFCON qualifiers were never friendly to the Major, of the 4 he played, he lost three and drew one, attaining a winning return of 8.33%, very poor by his standard and not acceptable at a National level, hence his untimely departure from his coaching job. While Butler, had 16 games, 4 wins, 3 draws and 9 losses, with 31.3% winning return, not bad but still below par.
CHAN competition saw Butler attain 33.3% winning return with two draws against Lesotho from two games, and his successor got 0% winning returns against South Africa.
Lastly comes the COSAFA competition, your wise men will always say for you to concur the world you need to concur your region first. In the quest to do so, Peter played 6 games, drew 3 and lost the rest, with a winning percentage return of 16.7%, which clearly cannot concur a region. Bright amassed 61.1% winning returns, with 6 games in charge, 3 wins, 2 draws and a loss.
Over the tenure in which Bright was in charge he managed to get 45.8% over 16 games played, as opposed to 38.8% achieved by his predecessor, over 42 games. Overall Major was economic, surprisingly he had scored 17 goals and conceded just 15 goals, with a plus 2 goal difference compared to James who scored 41 and conceded 53, a minus 12 goal difference. Clearly over time the Major was bound to succeed as he already had better building blocks. With 90.1% in friendlies, Bright was achieving his objectives of a foundation through these games. Going in to COSAFA and attaining 61.1% he was vividly in the quest to impose himself in the region.
The building blocks were coming up nicely, he was gradually building his house to compete in Africa. His team was always improving during the second game against the same opponent. Having lost 3 – 0 to Burkina Faso he held them to a 0 all draw a few days later. And he even scored his first goal in a hostile Mauritania, to show how his team was improving over time.
Bright went 10 games without a loss in regulation time from the day he beat Ethiopia 2-0 on Independence day friendly in 2017, until he lost 3-0 to South Africa during Plate Final of COSAFA on the 8th of June 2018. His predecessor, the nearest he came was seven games without a loss, starting with a 0 all draw with Burundi which was halted by Tunisia with a 2 -1 loss. Ten matches without a loss demonstrated an important spell for a team, a team can use it to dig deep as a mental strength in order to remain unbeatable. It’s a psychological strength that a team can rely on to stay aloft, when they are about to loss.
It’s a pity that the only determinants that were used to decide Bright’s fate were not negotiable, nor did the authority consider his summary performance as a coach. Only AFCON failure was used as a determinant for a coach who only played 4 friendlies his entire spell with the team and a coach who did well on his friendlies and COSAFA Cup than any other coach in the past five years. By the time he was getting his groove on with gradual improvement on the team, he was sent packing.
His reversal of 3-0 loss to Burkina Faso to 0-0 scoreline and getting first ever goal in Mauritania was a clear exemplification of a man on the raise. Boom fired, bye bye. Overall performance was not considered. The fact that he inherited a team that had already started its AFCON campaign was thrown out the window. Despite his predecessor been afforded more time and friendly games to prepare his team, the unfortunate Bright was expected to produce magic, with a few friendlies.
He tried but it was never enough for a coach who boasted a better COSAFA record of more goals scored and winning percentage, for any coach to have coached the Zebras. We have now regressed and the new coach will start to build new blocks.
Molefhi Kannemeyer Obenne