Zebras’ interim coach, Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote is making steady progress after his youthful charges booked a date against Madagascar as they aim to qualify for their maiden African Nations Championships.
180 minutes away from CHAN
The path to the CHAN finals appears clear, with just 180minutes separating Mpote’s boys from booking a trip to Algeria. The finals will be played between January 8 and 31, 2023.
The Zebras will be buoyed after the recent Mares run at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations finals. After skating on thin ice heading into the second leg against Eswatini, the Zebras needed a late intervention from Thero Setsile who converted a 78th minute penalty to leave the tie level at 2-2.
After a goalless encounter at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in the first leg, the Zebras progress to the final qualifying phase on away goal rules where they face Madagascar.
The Zebras had twice fallen behind, but first Godfrey Tauyatswala and then Setsile, rescued the team’s cause, to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the finals.
Botswana played second fiddle to Isihlangu Semnikati, with the men of the kingdom controlling proceedings for the better part of the two legs.
Mpote, who picked a squad without players from league runners-up Township Rollers, said the plan from the first leg was to prevent Eswatini from scoring. “We told ourselves that if we don’t score, they should not score as well, and that is what happened,” Mpote said after the Sunday match. The two teams have met four times in recent times, with Botswana prevailing 2-0 over Eswatini during last month’s COSAFA Cup.
“We knew it was not going to be easy, and definitely it was not. Today (Sunday) we tried to score, and we knew that we had to match them, and we did. They wanted to win this game at all costs, but we wanted it more,” Mpote said.
He said the way the boys fought was encouraging. “We are going to play Madagascar next month, and if we had our way we could be continuing with our camp. However, there are other engagements, my team Orapa wants me. I have given the Botswana Football Association (BFA) my programme. I also gave the players a program to follow as well,” the coach said.
He said the Zebras must qualify for CHAN at all costs particularly if the country is successful in its 2027 Africa Cup of Nations finals bid.
Getting used to competitive matches
“We need to get used to competitive matches at the CHAN finals provide that. If they consistently play in these competitions, they will grow and we might even find ourselves playing in the semi-finals of the 2027 AFCON finals,” Mpote said.
Botswana, together with Namibia, is bidding to host the 2027 AFCON finals and the BFA has indicated the intention is to pick a young squad as part of the build-up to the tournament which is five years away.