Botswana: Zebras Game Under New Normal

Francistown — Resumption of football games has come with new developments, which are in-line with COVID-19 protocols.

An AFCON Group H qualifier between Botswana and Zambia was played behind closed doors under the new normal.

The Zebras won the game by a solitary goal courtesy of Mosha Gaolaolwe.

Playing in an empty stadium was in the past used as a punishment for clubs, especially those that experience crowd trouble.However, the COVID-19 era has normalised this experience.

Usually, players are buoyed by the presence of cheering fans whose loud noise lifts the morale of the team.

For hosts, the noise from the spectators could be used to intimidate the visitors so that they lose focus.

All over the world, players, coaches and fans are watching to see what effect this new normal would have on their favorite sports.

Fans are an integral part of football and their absence would surely affect the outcome of games in one way or the other.

Some teams are known to do well due to the creative and festive ambience that exist in their stadiums.

Football fans play a big role in generating intensity during matches and this has brought questions on whether a sporting event can be regarded as real with no spectators.

Football in the African continent is being played in empty stadiums following a communication from CAF as they have set strict COVID-19 compliance and standards to minimize the risk of players and administrative staff from contracting the virus.

According to CAF'S guidelines, all players, referees and managers who return to football must be tested for COVID-19 in order to safeguard and strengthen the psychological confidence within the team and the environment.

The Zebras game was played with no spectators setting the tone for a new environment for both the players and officials.

During the game, save for the sound of the public address system, one could hear the voices of players and coaches as they shouted and gave instructions, an uncommon occurrence when the 26 000 seater Obed Itani Chilume stadium facility is filled to the brim.

The stadium itself, has for many years now been turned into a slaughter house for Zebras.

Many African giants have fallen and Zambia became the latest victim.

Prior to the game, media personnel also underwent COVID-19 testing as a way of minimising the risk of transmitting the virus at such a prestigious event.

A lot of developments have been used in this era of Corona virus as Botswana Football Association (BFA) took upon itself to avail the photos of the game to all non-accredited media since the accreditation to the game was certificate of COVID-19 tests results.

BFA public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane, said supporters were an important ingredient of the game, but it was important to protect them as well as players.

He said lack of supporters was loss of revenue to the teams, facility owners as well as small businesses working around the game.

Furthermore, he said the absence of supporters in the stadium had an impact on the results because of the input they had when the game was on-going, adding that this impact could either be positive or negative.

Mpatane noted that the mood in an empty stadium was a different one because at times supporters offered an extra push to the players.

"We definitely have less of a vibe in stadiums, the player however want to play because it is a way of life for them", he said.

Source: BOPA

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