- Gape Mohutsiwa’s goal fired Botswana to Position 3 in Group J with 4 points inspite of the divided football community on the day
The outstanding performance of the Botswana Senior National Football Team’s at the weekend came against the backdrop of a practically divided football community, thanks to the Clash of Legends game between Botswana and South Africa that filled the National Stadium in Gaborone to capacity.
The Zebras AFCON 2023 qualifier match against Libya at the Obed Chilume Stadium in Francistown was fixtured at the same time as the friendly game between Botswana and South Africa’s football stars of old that some have described as a tactless fixture.
Nevertheless, the Zebras won 1-0 against Libya, courtesy of Gape Mohutsiwa’s goal that fired Botswana to Position 3 in Group J with 4 points behind Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea, that have both qualified for AFCON ’23 from the group.
Prior to the match, Coach Mogomotsi “Teenage” Mpote had told Gazette Sports that the match would serve as a confidence-booster for the players as well as preparation for international matches like the Cosafa Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
“The boys lacked confidence and I pepped them up to regain their confidence with this match despite having not qualified for AFCON,” he said. “We needed the win so we did not finish at the bottom of our group, and I am happy we got three points.
“I am in a rebuilding process and it was important for players to perform to their level best towards building a more competitive team as we advance to other competitions. I wanted Batswana to come in large numbers to support the boys and witness their progress.”
However, Mpote was also unhappy with the staging of a huge social football event in a FIFA week of national teams and pride, saying it shifted attention from the Zebras. “It was a very tactless move,” he said.
“It is established practice that no match is fixtured during international week. What were those legends trying to communicate with their utter disrespect for local football? I am very disappointed because there was no such thing during their time as players.
“True legends are considerate and would have had the game at a different time in order for the Zebras to have the full attention of the nation.”
Sports minister at the Legends game
The Clash of the Legends enjoyed support at the highest levels, with the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) giving permission for use of the National Stadium for the match that attracted the presence of sports minister Tumiso Rakgare and the Chairman of the Botswana Football League (BFL) Nicolas Zakhem.
But some of Botswana’s football legends went to support the national team in Francistown, Onalethata Tshekiso and Michael Mogaladi among them.