Tshosane seeks support for ‘dream’ team
Stanley Tshosane credits his God, military background, his players will to win at all costs, and good old fashioned hard work in helping to take the Zebras from the whipping boys to the golden boys of African football.
In silencing his critics the Zebras coach has at the same time achieved a long cherished dream. The God fearing retired Lieutenant Colonel who is a member of the Zion Christian Church told Voice Sport in a frank and revealing interview: “God gave us his blessing. My army experience gave me, the players and my technical team, the will strive to win regardless of the circumstances. Doing it for our country has provided the motivation.
“In the army they teach you to come up with ways to win against all odds. When your enemy is better armed than yourself, you come up with tactics to beat them. Self-preservation is a great motivator!
“We have taken that philosophy onto the field and it seems to be working well. I am proud and grateful to all those, both divine and mortal, who have made this personal dream come true,” he said
“It might be hard for you to believe this, but I have had the dream of leading a successful Zebra’s side as far back as my days as the BDF XI coach,” said the man who first took over as Zebras care taker coach in 2001.
He went on to say the dream was inspired by clubs from countries such as the DRC and Egypt during his African club competition adventures with BDFXI.
“This made me realise that if we could win at club level, then we could do it at national level too. All we needed to do was to plan properly and play to our strengths,” Tshosane said.
When he first set out on his mission to take the Zebras to the Africa Cup of Nations, most dismissed his ambition as an impossible dream. Many, including certain elements of the press, were openly critical.
The fact that those same critics would not now be surprised to see ‘Stan the Man’ walk on water, is not lost on the master. “I have no problem with being criticized as long as it is done in a way that is not belittling and insolent. People are entitled to their own opinions, but they have to use decent language.
“It might also help if they engaged their brain before opening their mouths,” he adds, allowing himself a wry smile.
“At first I was puzzled as to why some coaches, administrators, journalists and players wrote me off before I had even started the job. I now realise the coaches were jealous, some perhaps wanted the job for themselves or their friends.
“As for the administrators and journalists, I think it was a combination of the ‘pull him down syndrome’ and simple ignorance. I won 7 gold medals and 4 silver medals at BDF XI and had done well as Zebras care taker coach and for one to ignore my record is unbelievable.” , he told Voice Sport.
Incidentally won the league once, was runners on three twice, won the Coca Cola Cup once, was second in the competition twice, captured the World Group Independence Cup three and also won the CISM Military Cup once whilst at BDF XI
“Not believing in our own abilities even when there is evidence to the contrary, is what is retarding our national progress in many instances. It’s a culture so entrenched in our people that some who thought I would fail have not even offered their congratulations even though I work at the BFA and meet them daily. This attitude is killing our nation and unless we curb it, we will not achieve our development goals,” Tshosane cautioned.
He went on to say that fear of failure had never been in his mind. “From day one I told the players and technical team that we were going to qualify,” he said.
Shoshone’s army experience helped him deal with the doubters and the divisions that had prevented the national from playing to their full potential.
“When I took over I realised that some players thought they owned the team and had become demi gods. At meal times certain places were reserved for certain players as were favoured seats on the team bus. I had to bring some disciple and togetherness. To achieve this I made it clear that any player who was not comfortable with the new set up could leave. I also had to drop some players. You cannot win a battle or a war when you are undisciplined and divided.”
Commenting on the celebration and pomp that greeted his troops as they triumphantly arrived from Chad, Tshosane was equally philosophical, knowing that some of those who greeted him open armed and with flowers, were just as likely to be sticking knives into his back if things had gone wrong.
“Some who had called me a failure were cheering loudest. I find this sort of hypocrisy painful, but the joy in my heart at what we had achieved gave me some relief. I cannot say I was vindicated as I had nothing to prove to anybody in the first place,” he added.
As for the team’s prospects at AFCON 2012, the coach commented: “I am confident we will do the country proud. We have a plan and it will work for us. All we need is support from everybody including those that doubted us from the beginning. I hold no grudges. That’s why I am calling on all Batswana to stand behind us as we fight for our nations’ pride on the football field.
“My long cherished dream for the Zebras goes on,” he says with a now familiar twinkle in the eye.
Phase two of the vision begins next week when he meets the BFA National Executive Committee to discuss his road map to the AFCON Finals in February next year.
Expressing his joy at the Zebras qualification, former coach Jelusic Veselin told Voice Sport: “I am happy for the coach, the players, the BFA and the people of Botswana. This will motivate younger players and help with development efforts. I trusted Stan would do the job as I was in the committee that appointed him and had worked with him. He is an able and knowledgeable man. All he needs is support from all as he works to take Botswana’s national team to the next level.
“I am also happy for the little that I have done to help develop the Zebras into a team the nation can be proud of,” Veselin said, adding that he will attend the AFCON finals and cheer for the Zebras if his schedule allows him.
At the time of going to press we were still awaiting a response from another former Zebras coach Colwyn Rowe.