Sebego confirms interest in AFCON 2017
Botswana Football Association President Tebogo Sebego has revealed that they are seriously considering submitting a bid to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. So serious is the BFA about the issue that its National Executive Committee (NEC) has already held preliminary talks with the view of officially submitting a bid to host AFCON 2017.
Reports indicate that Sebego held side meetings with Danny Jordaan, President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) and a senior CAF representative, while attending an annual general meeting of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week. However, in an interview with Gazette Sports, Sebego could neither deny nor confirm reports that he had a one on one with Jordaan, save to say that the SAFA President has previously urged the BFA to bid for the tournament. Jordaan played a key role in South Africa’s successful bid and hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as the 2013 AFCON tournament. He widely viewed by as a key advisor in such matters, given his experience in preparing successful bids for his country. Sebego explained that the BFA is yet to make a final decision on whether they should submit a bid or not, saying they are still holding discussions at NEC level.
“We are interested but we’ve not decided whether we should bid or not. We discussed the issue at length and we will definitely be realistic in our implementation plans. We also researched on the requirements to host such a tournament and the NEC will have the final word on whether or not we should try our luck,” said Sebego.
Provided they submit their bid, Botswana will face competition from Ghana, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Mali and a treble bid from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. The likes of Ghana, Egypt, Mali and Algeria have an edge over Botswana since they have hosted the competition before. The joint bid by Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda will also present stiff competition for other bidders because the tournament has rarely been hosted in the East African region. The last two countries to host the tournament in that region are Sudan (1970) and Ethiopia (1976). If CAF opts to award the competition to a country that has never hosted it, Botswana will find itself pitted against Zimbabwe with the three East African countries as favourites. Botswana is running against time to make a final decision because CAF has set a September 30 deadline for interested countries to have submitted their bids. Should Botswana decide not to bid, it would have to wait for another 11 years before bidding again because CAF has already confirmed the hosts of the 2019, 2021 and 2023 AFCON tournaments.
Does Botswana meet the CAF requirements?
Article 32 of the CAF Statutes states that “any member association proposing its country for the Africa Cup of Nations must have organized at least one major junior or senior CAF competition.” Botswana fits the bill because they once hosted the CAF Under 17 Championships in 1997.
CAF also requires a potential host to have full government support and assurances of finances to make the tourney successful. Sebego stated that the BFA will approach government for assistance as they approach their final week of the decision making process. The BFA will also bank on the support of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture as well as the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC).
Another requirement is the quality and quantity of stadia available for the tournament. Botswana has stadiums such as the National Stadium, Molepolole Sports Complex, Lobatse Sports Complex and the Francistown Stadium among others. AFCON tournaments require as many as eight stadia to enable simultaneous fixtures for the last round of group stage matches. Refurbishments and possibly an increase in stadia could be demanded by CAF in order to host the prestigious tournament.