Circumstances similar to those experienced by the senior national team in the build-up to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament have led to the collapse of another national team in a major tournament.
This was implied by the assistant coach of the Under 17 team, Ditiro Motshegare just a few minutes after the team returned from the CAF Under 17 Championships which are currently ongoing in Morocco. The team was dealt a major psychological blow before making their long awaited appearance at the CAF Under-17 tournament where they lost all their matches.
The Diamond Zebras qualified for the tournament and were rightly hailed as the future stars of Botswana football. They had achieved a feat that had eluded their predecessors for the past 15 years, but most of the team which worked behind the scenes to make the squad successful was reportedly dismantled by the Botswana Football Association top brass and headcoach, Kagiso Kobedi was not a happy man when the team departed for the north African country.
Motshegare told Gazette Sport that poor preparations were to blame for the side’s early exit. He said that all their opponents had access to international camps which reinforced their preparations for the continental tournament.
“Administrative problems really derailed us. It was difficult for the technical team to be 100 per cent focused on the job at hand. An unhappy camp cannot do its job properly because spirits need to be high for one to be confident in their abilities and translate that positive energy onto the players. We were not tactically, technically and mentally prepared as compared to our opponents,” said Kobedi’s deputy. “We were a tight unit when qualifying, but we were really disappointed when our technical team was separated. We had to move on from the issue and adapt to change, but it was still difficult for us. The boys tried their level best; the gap between us and other teams is not a big one,” he added.
The team also had to wait in Morocco for a week before the arrival of their kit, another problem which was evident in the side’s preparation for their opener against Tunisia. Such uncertainties had been a worry in the Diamond Zebras camp, according to the assistant coach. He also noted that much more has to be done to groom young talent in Botswana. He revealed that in Morocco there are more than 100 academies, which must have helped them reach a higher level.
He concluded that good preparation is key if Botswana sides are to do well in major competitions. “We have to dust ourselves off and return to the drawing board. The Under-14 side has to be gradually promoted to Under-17 level and similarly our side has to move on to the Under-20 level,” he concluded. The side conceded nine goals in three games. They lost 3-1, 3-0 and 3-1 to Tunisia, Morocco and Guinea respectively.