The Botswana senior national men’s football team has been given yet another tricky AFCON Qualification route after being drawn against familiar foes Burkina Faso, Angola and minnows Mauritania.
Gazette Sport has listed three key factors that could help the team improve their fortunes after missing out on Africa’s biggest tournament in their last three attempts.
Improving scouting (and budgeting for it)
Scouting the opposition is the most important aspect of preparing for a match, it is a worldwide practice that has been adopted by national team and club coaches for decades if not centuries.
Scouting the opposition would require the coach or ideally a member of his coaching staff travelling to their opponent’s home game to gauge the atmosphere that the spectators create and to have an idea of how the team plays.
In Africa there is a low chance of getting video footage of lesser known teams because they are rarely televised. YouTube highlights are available for players of bigger teams but they are just snippets of a player’s potential and they do not tell the whole story of the team’s capabilities.
By their own admission last year, the Botswana Football Association did not have enough funds to finance such crucial trips. It resulted in Zebras failing to prepare well for facing lesser known teams.
The threat of an unknown team is the most dangerous as Botswana’s group stage loss to Comoros in the previous AFCON Qualifiers demonstrated. The loss went a long way in ensuring that Zebras failed to qualify for the 2017 tournament. It is easier said than done but setting aside funds for this exercise could assist the national team.
More friendly games
The last two Zebras coaches, Butler and Stanley Tshosane have decried the lack of friendly matches ahead of important qualifying coaches. Inactivity during the FIFA international weeks is a contributing factor to low rankings that ultimately lead Botswana to lower placements in Qualifying draws.
As a result, Botswana is always in Pot 3 and given tougher opponents in Pot 1 and 2. The Zebras have faced Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Mali in the last three AFCON Qualifications (2013, 2015 and 2017) due to their low placement.
Striker coach needed
Goal scoring has been Zebras’ main downfall in the last two qualifiers. They scored only once in the 2015 Qualifiers and scored five times in the 2017 Qualifiers, that is a combined tally of six goals in 12 matches. The low scoring tally brings to light a poor goal return or ratio of 0.5 goals per game in 12 games.
A striker coach could be the perfect solution for the team’s shyness in front of goal. A specialist trainer could help the national team strikers improve their sharpness in front of goal, preferably a former national team striker who has been there and done that.
The goal scoring burden on Joel Mogorosi proved too much as his supporting cast failed to pitch up when needed most.