• Three points are of all the essence in Malabo
  • Return leg in F/town on Tuesday next week


Botswana senior national football team, “The Zebras,” will lock horns with Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on Friday in the first of a back-to-back encounter whose return leg will be at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown on Tuesday next week.

At stake are three crucial points in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers slated for the Ivory Coast next year.

The Zebras – who are in Group J alongside table-toppers Tunisia, second and third Equatorial Guinea and Libya respectively – will approach this match sitting at bottom of the group with a single point they got in their previous match against Tunisia in Francistown.

Before then the Zebras had lost their opening encounter against Libya by a solitary goal away from home.

Training camp in Morocco

In an exclusive interview from Equatorial Guinea, Coach Mogomotsi Mpote said that the team has been in a week-long training camp in Morocco where they also played a friendly with a local club.

“We arrived in Malabo on Sunday morning and decided to skip training in order to give the players some rest,” he said.

“We then started tactical training on Monday morning for adaptation and went into another training session in the evening.

“We did three sessions working on our transitions from defence to attack and vice versa, and I was impressed by the way the players responded.”

In fine fettle

Mpote noted that the squad is now complete following late arrivals of foreign-based players, including Tumisang Orebonye and team captain Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, both of whom had club commitments over the weekend.

“We had a good reception from the local association who have given us a good hotel 5km from the stadium,” he added. “We really cannot complain in terms of hospitality.”

Coach Mpote stated that the players are in the right frame of mind and physical condition for the task before them.

The Zebras, who last qualified for AFCON competition for the first time in 2012, will be looking to be one of the two teams from the Group to book their ticket to the Ivory Coast.