A disappointing weekend for 2012 Africa Cup of Nations challengers saw Botswana players go on strike before being held 0-0 at home by an understrength Zimbabwe team in a warm-up game.
Co-hosts Equatorial Guinea also had to settle for a goalless home draw against severely depleted South Africa in a bruising battle that produced red cards for the visiting captain and coach.
The Cup of Nations kicks off on January 21 with Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia joining co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon on the title trail.
Botswana refused to train for two days after national football association officials said they could not meet a series of financial demands from the surprise first-time qualifiers.
The ‘Zebras’ want each of the 23 players chosen for the three-week tournament to receive a $13 000 bonus as well as $2 000 for a win, $1 000 for a draw and $4 500 for reaching the quarter-finals.
No extra money
Officials from the large diamond-rich southern Africa country of just two-million people have needed government support to fund two camps in South Africa and say extra money is not available.
Financial reward is one of several issues that have marred preparations, with a request from coach Stanley Tshosane to train in Kenya and Brazil rejected and South Africa and Cameroon chosen instead.
Tshosane, widely praised for the three-year transformation of Botswana from football lightweights to Cup of Nations challengers, was also upset when talks on a possible new contract were postponed until the African football showpiece ends.
Botswana dominated the Gaborone friendly against opponents lacking their foreign-based stars and acting captain Joel Mogorosi led a late assault that produced several fine saves from Washington Arubi.
The ‘Zebras’ fly to Cameroon port city Douala on Wednesday for a 10-camp that may involve matches against club sides and they face co-favourites Ghana on January 24 in the opening Group D fixture.
Equatorial Guinea opened the impressive 40 000-seat Estadio Bata — one of four Cup of Nations venues — but there was nothing else to celebrate in a drab friendly of few scoring chances that turned ugly after half-time.
South Africa centre-back and skipper Morgan Gould was red carded for protesting a foul on new midfielder May Mahlangu after being cautioned earlier and coach Pitso Mosimane got his marching orders after complaints from the fourth official.
Bafana Bafana were among five high-profile casualties of the qualifying competition with record seven-time champions Egypt, four-time winners Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria. –Sapa-AFP