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Heartbreak or hoax?

Heartbreak or hoax?
DISAPPOINTED: Mfolo

BFA shocked to learn of U/17’s world cup exit

This Wednesday, Botswana Football Association was (BFA) shocked to learn the country have seemingly been excluded from the final round of U/17 Women World Cup Qualifiers.

Trailing 1-0 after the first round first leg against Morocco, the girls had been due to fly to North Africa for the return match on 14 March.

However, on the eve of their flight, BFA called off the trip

following instruction from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development.

Heartbreak or hoax?
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With Covid-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Botswana government cancelled all planned external travel of national teams and the hosting of any international teams until further notice.

Speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday, BFA CEO Mfolo Mfolo said they were shocked to discover the fixture list on sports website JWsports1 had pitted Morocco against South Africa in the final qualifying round.

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According to the site, ‘Morocco advanced after Botswana withdraw due to the Coronavirus scare’.

Mfolo claimed that back in March, BFA wrote to CAF informing them of the government ban on international travel. He said the response they got asked if they were withdrawing from the tournament.

“We responded asking for postponement of the fixture. We were waiting for them to give us new dates of the fixture and are surprised by the new development. I still don’t believe this is genuine because they haven’t communicated with us about the decision to withdraw us from the tournament,” said Mfolo.

“We are very disappointed. The situation was beyond our control and it was a sensitive issue because we are talking of minors who are the government and parents’ responsibility. We could not risk their lives,” insisted Mfolo, adding that on the day the team were due to travel, Morocco registered its first confirmed Covid-19 case.

The CEO said they will send a letter to CAF this Thursday (14 May) to inquire about the new fixtures.

Having beaten Zimbabwe 7-0 on aggregate in the preliminary round, the U/17 team were full of confidence ahead of their rematch with Morocco.

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It seems their dreams of playing in next year’s World Cup have been taken away from them through no fault of their own.

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