Khama helped in Zebras revival

BOTSWANA coach Stanley Tshosane has credited the country's president, Ian Khama, with the success of soccer in the southern African country, which resulted in their qualifying for their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Tshosane is at the state- of-the-art Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus in Phokeng with the Zebras, who are wrapping up their preparations for the biennial tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

"President Khama used to be one of the seniors in the army of Botswana when I was still a soldier. He is very passionate about sport. When I was still in the army he used to tell us he wanted to see Botswana becoming one of the superpowers of sport in the world.

"It was not only about soccer - athletics, softball and netball were also brought on board in his vision to see Botswana's sportsmen and women doing well.

"At that stage people did not have a clue of what he was talking about.

"Major David Bright (coach of National First Division side Bay United) and I were among the people who benefited a great deal from soccer. We were sent all over the world to attend coaching courses, including going to Brazil, England, Germany and South Africa.

"When I was appointed coach of the Zebras in 2008 I was already beginning to see that Khama's vision was working because Botswana now have soccer players doing well in the Premier Soccer League in South Africa, United States of America and other parts of the world.

"We also have the first Motswana to win a gold medal in the IAAF World Championships, Amantle Montsho. The success of the Zebras and Amantle will inspire many other young Batswana men and women to take sports seriously.

"We wouldn't be where we are were it not for the vision of the president," said Tshoshane, who won many titles as coach of Botswana Defence Force XI.

On their Afcon finals preparations, Tshosane said: "Everything is going according to plan. We were enjoying our stay here at the Royal Marang Hotel Phokeng.

"We are going back to Gaborone on January 5 to start preparing for the international friendly against Zimbabwe two days later."

Subsequent to that, the Zebras will fly to Cameroon for their last training camp.

"We will also play warm-up matches against top clubs in Cameroon, we are not going to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon on holiday. Our aim is to do well," said Tshosane.

Botswana are in the same group as Ghana, Mali and Guinea.