By Confidence Musariri
Suspended Brave Warriors captain Henrico Botes is likely to represent his country in the Cosafa Castle Cup after it emerged that his ban was only meant for Confederation of African Football (CAF) matches, national team manager Tim Isaacs has said.
The former Moroka Swallows diminutive striker Botes, who switched base to South African premier league runners-up Silver Stars, might be given the nod to play in the Cosafa Castle Cup since his six-match CAF ban does not seem to include the Cosafa Castle Cup.
Namibia takes part in the Cosafa Castle Cup on July 28 against arch-rivals and neighbour Botswana. The Cosafa is neither a FIFA nor CAF sanctioned tournament.
“We have written to CAF requesting their 100 percent confirmation and although they are yet to respond, chances are high that Henrico might be around for the Cosafa,” said John Muinjo NFA President.
The national team manager, Tim Isaacs, broke the story at the unveiling of the Brave Warriors kit for the Cosafa Cup. “We are highly hoping to have our captain around and we have started negotiations with his club for the release of the player when such a time comes, “Isaacs said.
Christened Henna at Moroka Swallows, Botes scooped the top goal scorer award before packing his bags to Stars at the end of the South African season recently.
The country’s top striker has been dearly missed in the Nations Cup qualifiers where the Brave Warriors are hanging by the proverbial gossamer thread I Group 10.
e was suspended from competing in the African Nations Cup qualifiers for six games after spitting in the face of Ethiopian defender Dawit Mebratu in a qualifying match on October 8 2006.
The ban was officially misinterpreted to mean that Henna would only play for his country in the last match of the Nations Cup first round. Botes may now feature in Cosafa and if the Brave Warriors fail to make it to the Nations Cup, he will only play for his country in the second round of the 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup qualifiers in 2009. In a telephone interview with New Era yesterday, Botes said he was “ecstatic” on the news and will keep his fingers crossed waiting for a response from CAF. “It’s been a long time and people just do not know how much I was kicking myself in the VIP stands when I watched the boys play against Libya,” said the banned player.
Botes added that he had enjoyed the sabbatical but was starting to feel the pain of being left out of national duty. “It’s my fault. I shot myself in the foot by retaliating (at the Ethiopian) and I am serving the punishment of which I think I have served enough,” he confessed.
The South African premiership kicks off on the first weekend of August when Silver Stars go into the Super 8 Cup. Botes said his move to Stars was also necessitated by the fact that he is not tied up with national team commitments.
“When I joined the club, the coach asked me about my ban and I told him, I still have three games to miss and he seemed fine with it. When CAF responds, I will just take that letter to him so that he can give me that small opportunity … to play for my country,” said Botes.
Silver Stars, The Lions Of The North, will be representing South Africa alongside Mamelodi Sundowns in the African Champions League. Botes will become the second Namibian to represent Namibia in a professional set-up in the African Safari, after Angolan import Meraai Swartbooi of Premier Da Agosto.
“I want to play in the Cosafa,” said the soccer star who scored in each of last year’s Cosafa Cup matches against the Seychelles and Malawi, respectively.