The Zebras’ French revolution begins …but no place for Vietnam based Wilson
The men’s national football team start a new chapter under the tutelage of well-travelled but little-known French tactician, Didier Gomes Da Rosa on Thursday.
The 54-year-old Frenchman has been handed the reins to navigate Botswana’s World Cup qualification from group G, where Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, Mozambique and Somalia lie in wait.
The adventure begins in Ghetto, with a tricky test against Mozambique, a side ranked 35 places higher than BW.
Da Rosa has inherited a team that has slipped down the FIFA rankings in recent years following two dismal AFCON qualifying campaigns, in which they won just twice in 12 outings.
The Zebras will have to finish top of the group to secure automatic qualification at the USA/Canada/Mexico tournament in 2026.
Although he is aware of the challenge ahead, the new broom is eying an explosive start, setting his sights on six points from the Zebras opening two encounters on Ghetto’s grass.
“It is a very good thing to start at home. Everybody is committed, and I’m confident that we can raise the Botswana flag high,” Da Rosa told members of the media in Francistown on Wednesday.
“I’ve a lot of tactical options, and the team has responded well to my methods,” he added, emphasizing the importance of winning their first match.
“Starting well will be good for the team’s confidence,” said Da Rosa.
The French man will, however, be without Zebras latest acquisition, Vietnamese-based defensive midfielder, Brandon Wilson.
The player, who has brought a buzz of excitement to football lovers, was born in Gaborone, but has Australian citizenship.
“Wilson is a good player, very mature and experienced, but we’ve to wait for a couple of days before he can play,” Da Rosa said, as he revealed that the Zebras’ new addition will not be picked for the World Cup qualifier opener.
It is unclear whether the 26-year-old will be available for the Guinea clash on Tuesday.
Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Annah Mokgethi has told Voice Sport that the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has written to her asking for intervention.
“I do not want to say much, but can confirm that we’re looking into it,” was all Mokgethi was prepared to say.
The Minister explained the dual citizenship law has not fully come into effect, but the process is ongoing.
Botswana abolished the law prohibiting dual citizenship following last year’s landmark ruling by the High Court. In a decision passed on the 29th day of April 2022, High Court declared Sections 15 (1) and 15 (4) of the Citizenship Act to be unconstitutional and accordingly struck down.
This essentially means that holders of dual citizenship will no longer be required to renounce one citizenship at the age of 21 or risk losing their status as citizens of Botswana.
“Wilson is a Motswana and should play. He does not need to renounce his Australian citizenship. He has a birth certificate, his uncle and aunt live in Botswana. Government should seriously look into this otherwise we’ll lose out on so many of our talented children,” said a concerned BFA aide.
With or without the Hanoi FC midfielder, the hungry Zebras fan will be hoping Da Rosa can serve up some of the French flair synonymous with Les Bleues, who have become one of the most dominant football teams in the world.