BDF VI had early exit at African Championships

  • Coach blames lack of game time at home and poor refereeing at tourney for poor showing

Baitshepi Sekgweng

BDF VI ladies volleyball team was sent packing in the early stages of the 2018 Women’s Africa Club Championships held in Cairo, Egypt from 5 to 16 March.

BDF VI had qualified for the competition by virtue of being runners-up in the Zone VI Club Championships that were held in Zimbabwe late last year. They were drawn into Pool B with Harare City (Zimbabwe), Carthage (Tunisia), Bafia (Cameroon) and Chlef (Algeria).

They lost all their games.

‘Senegal’ as BDF are known in the local volleyball circles, first tasted loss from Zone VI champions Harare City, succumbing to their northern neighbours 3-1 (18-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-23). The local girls went on to suffer their second defeat at the hands of defending champions Carthage of Tunisia.

They lost 3-0 (25-4, 25-16, 25-23).

In the third game, the army girls nearly caused an upset against Bafia (Cameroon) before losing the game 3-2 (26-24, 11-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-12) in a five-set thriller.

Chlef of Algeria was the team to put the last nail into BDF VI’s coffin, registering a 3-1 win (21-25, 29-2, 25-21, 25-14) over the Botswana side. This meant they were now headed for positional playoffs where they lost 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 25-11, 23-25, 15-11) to DGSP of Congo Brazzaville.

The results saw BDF finishing on the 19th spot out of 22 teams that took part in the competition.

Said BDF IV coach Andrew Moleleke: “We did not start our games well because of fatigue from the long journey. We could have at least won three games in our group, which could have propelled us to the quarterfinals.

“But I’m happy with the girls’ performance because before our departure, most critics were saying negative things about the team. Yes, we were beaten, but compared to other local teams which played in this tournament without winning a single set, we made history.”

Moleleke has blamed poor refereeing for her team’s disastrous showing. “Another factor that cost us dearly was officiating,” he told Global Sport. “Here and there the referees were not spot on. They cost us two games that we could have won by a margin of three. One of the referees was actually expelled from the tournament and told to go home.

“But now it is water under the bridge. The level of competition was very high and I’m happy that we learned one or two things. Our competitors are playing professional in setups, so their skill is more advanced than ours. We are going to use what we learnt to our advantage in our local games.”

According to Moleleke, the absence of the league has also been a major setback. “We did not have game time during the season,” he said. “The last time we had competitive games was the JB Sports and the Zone VI championships. After that players were just idling.”