Zebras coach fed up with players shunning call up
Senior National team Coach Major David Bright is about to lose his characteristic smile.
The normally upbeat gaffer has not had a bright return to the national set up.
Since Bright took over, the Zebras have slipped nine places down the FIFA rankings, and currently languish 147th in the world.
To add to his frustrations, the former army major believes his efforts to turn things around are being hampered by uncooperative clubs.
The Zebras are in camp for FIFA international week preparing for their friendly game against Gabon to be played next week Tuesday at Franceville.
The friendly is part of the Zebras preparations for their all-important Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2019 qualifier against Angola next year.
In an interview with Voice Sport on Wednesday afternoon during a Zebras training session, Bright accused some local clubs of ‘unsporting tactics’ when they are supposed to release players for national duty.
“We wrote to Orapa United requesting that they release Gift Moyo and Thabang Mosige, but they told us the two players were injured,” he said.
Major Bright said he was therefore shocked when both players played the full 90 minutes in the Ostriches last match, a 1-1 draw against Black Forest last Friday.
The vastly experienced 61-year-old coach believes certain domestic sides are unwilling to release their star players for fear of them getting injured on international duty.
Bright, who guided Mogoditshane Fighters to three consecutive Botswana Premier League titles (1999 – 2001) during his 13-year spell at the club, stressed that this severely disrupts his preparations.
“Zebras has a doctor who can examine players and tell whether they are unfit or fit to play,” Bright said.
“This is a serious offence and according to FIFA rules the association can suspend a player for failing to honour a national team call,” continued Bright darkly.
Giving an update on his foreign legion, Bright said both Tsotso Ngele and Mpho Kgaswane will also miss the game, as their team doctors informed BFA that they are carrying injuries.
Despite all the challenges, the Zebras tactician said compared to when he assembled the team, players’ fitness levels have improved noticeably.
Bright revealed he hopes to play at least two friendly games before facing Angola for the crucial AFCON qualifier.
In their last friendly match Zebras lost 3-1 against Namibia.
“This game is our first serious test because Gabon is a strong opponent. Even our approach is going to be different. We want to apply wing play and that is why I have called Kobamelo Kebaikanye and Motsholetsi Sikele because they are fast,” he said.
The coach has also brought in Gaborone United’s 29-year-old fullback, Tshepo Maikano to bolster his defence.
He further added that he’d be happy to get at least a draw from the match.
“I have a pool of about 40 players and I will keep on alternating them until I have the final squad in February next year,” he disclosed.
Bright revealed he had been closely monitoring players’ performance in the league and had chosen his squad based on merit and current form.
Unsurprisingly, runaway league leaders Township Rollers form the nucleus of Bright’s squad.
“We need more soldiers who are willing to put the country first, we need players who are willing to get the Zebras back to where they belong,” Bright concluded passionately, with a glance at his watch, a signal that practice time was almost up.