WE BURY SORRY SOLDIERS
The controversial Coke Cup Quarter-final against BDF X1 is now history, and as far as I am concerned forgotten. Whatever has been said about the game, the bottom line is that we are still alive in the competition, whilst the soldier boys are dead and buried.
I know people are talking about the sitter I missed, but that cannot be regarded as the worst thing in that game. It is not like I committed murder – it’s just a normal thing in football. The coach wasn’t as mad at me as I would have thought, and despite the narrow score line the game wasn’t as tough as we expected. We could and should have put the sorry soldiers out of their misery in the first half, but lady luck just deserted us. As for their complaining about the referees decisions – well I think they must know that like an order from a senior soldier his decisions are final. Enough said!
The Chad Clash
Before we departed for Chad we camped at the President’s hotel from where I am writing this column. As I sat and thought about Chad I replayed in my mind the duel we had with them in the first round. Those guys are fighters – maybe it is because they have had four civil wars since 1965, and they have continued the hostilities onto the football pitch. In any case we are expecting a very physical encounter there, even more than what we experienced here. But we are better than we were when we beat them in Gabs, so we are confident that we can out play them.
We are aware we have to go and play as a team and work very hard, but we have a team full of hard workers so that isn’t much of a problem. The coach has told us that we are the centre of attraction as everybody is still shocked as to how we have managed to get to top the log, and now they want to shoot us down. Even more so for bottom placed Chad who are looking up at us from the other end of the log.
Morale is high
Morale in camp is at an all time high. We are all focused and are determined to qualify. This is an historic game – just imagine the Zebras from little old Botswana could be the first country to qualify for AFCON. We know we have to sweat blood, maybe literally because of the 40 degree conditions, but to continue the fighting analogy, like true soldiers we are prepared to die on the field for our beloved country. Maybe that sounds a bit over the top, but I never known a more solid, single-minded and united squad. We also have faith and the coach believes in us.
We are not going to start seeking help from the powers of darkness like sangomas and traditional doctors. If they could have helped South Africa during the World Cup maybe we could try, but they didn’t so with faith in our own abilities and positive morale, we will make it.
This is a moment that could change our professional lives, so we are out to grab it with both hands, or should I say, apart from the keeper, with both feet.
From previous journeys we have been on I know most of the guys are comfortable with taking to the skies. I think my former teammate at Rollers, Eddie Olerile is the only one uncomfortable with the plane. At least going as far as Ethiopia, which is the major part of the journey, there won’t be much of a scare. We are also not too worried about the wars and uncertainties in Chad. We have been briefed about everything. The Malawian players also told us what to expect. They told us that even the referees are intimidated, but we are there to do a job, so I trust that the refs will also do theirs without fear or favour.
The last time we played far away from home in 2008 while I was still in Cyprus, I was left in Egypt alone because there were no flights connecting to Cyprus. I was kind of stranded amongst people who couldn’t speak English – only one man tried the basics. I was lucky because I had the dollars, and money talks in any language. I trust it can’t happen again, but if there are problems I can put myself forward as an experienced traveller. Just hope we have the dollars.
By the time we departed it wasn’t clear whether the game will be on television or some Batswana were able to travel with the team. It will be a bonus to see just one supporter with the Botswana flag there. Maybe radio will do the commentary, but I know that all our loyal supporters will be with us in spirit. Halala Zebras halala!