The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced the list of referees who will be officiating the upcoming 2023 AFCON finals in Ivory Coast. However, much to the disappointment of football fans in Botswana, none of the country's referees or assistant referees made it onto the prestigious list.

This exclusion comes in the wake of recent controversies surrounding Botswana referees, particularly the suspension of seasoned referee, Joshua Bondo and linesman Kitso Sibanda earlier this year. The suspensions raised concerns about the integrity and professionalism of local officials, leading to a lack of representation in the AFCON tournament.

Back in April, Joshua Bondo was suspended for six months which means his suspension is still ongoing while the assistant referees; Mogomotsi Morakile, Kitso Sibanda and Tshepo Gobagoba were slapped with three months suspension, and while their suspension has ended, it is believed that they missed the selection because when the selection process commenced they were serving their suspension.

The officials failed to follow up on inaccurate reporting on CMS in the AFCON Match 84: BENIN vs RWANDA played in Benin on the 22nd of March 2023.

The absence of Botswana referees from the AFCON list has sparked a heated debate within the local football community across social media. Many fans are questioning the capabilities of local referees while others believe that there are other capable referees who could have contributed to the success of the tournament.

Meanwhile, the selected referees from other African nations will undergo a rigorous training course to ensure they are fully prepared for the AFCON tournament. This training will focus on enhancing their knowledge of the game, improving decision-making skills, and maintaining a high level of professionalism on the field.

As the countdown to the 2023 AFCON finals begins, Botswana football enthusiasts will have to rally behind the participating teams rather than their own referees.

Only time will tell if Botswana referees will regain the trust and recognition they deserve on the African football stage. For now, all eyes will be on the upcoming AFCON tournament, where referees from other nations will take center stage, hoping to deliver fair and impartial officiating for the continent's most prestigious football event.