Masters defends Zebras performance in Afcon qualifiers

Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer Keith Masters believes the Zebras should be commended for their campaign in the AFCON 2015 Qualifiers, even though they failed to qualify for the finals of the continental showpiece. Speaking to Gazette Sport a day after the Zebras were walloped 3-0 by Senegal in the AFCON 2015 Qualifiers, Masters said he was happy with the national team’s performance.

“I don’t agree with those who say the Zebras played poorly. I think our boys played very well. We must view this issue from outside the box. We were grouped with three of the strongest teams in Africa,” said Masters.

Local fans have raised complaints about the Zebras poor performance in the qualifying campaign, saying it was inexcusable for the team not to win a single game. However, Masters believes the Zebras were unlucky not to beat Tunisia.

“Our best performance was against Tunisia who went on to win the group. We also matched Senegal at home in most departments,” he said.

Zebras bowed out of the qualifiers with a worst defensive record of -10. During the qualifiers, Zebras were the second worst performing team and the worst finishers as they scored just one goal in the whole qualifying campaign. The last time Zebras qualified for the AFCON finals was in 2011 while under Stanley Tshosane. They were even voted CAF’s Best National Team for that same year. However the national team’s performance  plummeted after the AFCON 2012 finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Masters also maintained that the Zebras had enough time and resources to adequately prepare for AFCON.

“We met with government as soon as the team qualified for the group stages and we were given all the necessary resources to prepare.
The national team was well prepared for the group stages and we played a few friendlies against Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe,” said Masters.
The Zebras game against Guinea Bissau was riddled with controversy as there were allegations that the team did not have enough funds.
At the moment, Vice President-Administration Tariq Babitseng is on suspension over alleged misappropriation of funds. The BFA CEO also maintained that his public feud with national team coach Peter Butler has been resolved and they will continue working together for the betterment of the game. He also refused to comment on reports that Kgomela assaulted Zebras assistant coach Pio Paul after the Tunisia game, saying the issue was also under investigation.