The decision by the sports minister, Tumiso Rakgare to attend the ‘Clash of Legends’ match this past weekend over the AFCON 2023 Qualifiers between Zebras and Libya has raised mixed reactions within the football space.
Some pundits have come out to condemn the minister’s choice to attend what they regard a mere social event, undermining the national team and the country’s bid to host the AFCON2027. They also condemn the timing of the Legends match on the same date.
In his defense minister Rakgare said it was not intentional for him not attend the AFCON Qualifiers game. “I had other official engagement which needed my presences therefore I decided to attend the Legends match which was also for a good cause,” he told Times Sport.
He stressed that attending the ‘Clash of Legends’ match should not be seen as if he does not value the national team noting that his presence at the legends match was also vital.
The Zebras head coach Mogomotsi Teenage Mpote is among those who did not hide his disappointment about the weekend events opining that organising the Legends Match on the same day as the AFCON qualifiers was an insult to the integrity of football in Botswana.
Mpote believes the Zebras-Libya game needed to be treated in a special way. According to him, it shows lack of respect for the national team for the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to have allowed the legends match to clash with the AFCON qualifiers.
However, there are those who believe that the ‘Clash of Legends’ hosted in Gaborone was also equally important because its purpose was to raise funds for the Zebras legends who are currently in dire need.
In addition, they also posited that for the two matches to be played on the same day and both attracting full attendance was proof to the world that the country has the ability to host successful matches at one time.
Local football analyst, Jimmy George is of the view that the two matches were a sign that Botswana football has grown over the years highlighting that attendance at both venues was impressive.
George argued that CAF calendar allows for such matches like the one played in Gaborone provided they do not interfere with the Botswana-Libya match hence why BFA also allowed it. He revealed that the Legends Match was equally important as it sought to raise funds for Zebras legends that need Batswana to stand with them during these difficult times.
“I appreciated the work done by a Motswana who managed to successfully coordinate and stage such match and that needs to be appreciated and recognised,” he said.
Also in favor is another analyst, Fabian Zulu who is of the view that the Clash of the Legends match was harmless to that of the Zebras-Libya game in Francistown. He said both matches helped the world see that indeed Botswana has the ability to host AFCON and COSAFA games.
“Mpote should be wise enough not to react the way he did because he will also be in the same shoes as former coaches. They were once there but were later forgotten therefore he should appreciate the platform like this that accommodate former players and coaches,” he warned.
In the AFCON23 Qualifiers Zebras defeated Libya 1-0 through Gape Mohutsiwa while zebra’s legends won 5-4 in penalties against Bafana Bafana following a 1-1 draw.