The Mares Off To A Flying Start


The Botswana senior women’s football team, the Mares, got off to a flying start in their 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) opener against Burundi. Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang’s side won 4-2 against fellow tournament debutants Burundi to assume the top spot in Group C after the first matchday.

Keitumetse Dithebe opened the scoring in the 43rd minute with a well taken long range strike at the edge of the box after a clever and quick interchange of passes. The slightly lobbed effort proved too much to handle for the Burundi goalkeeper who could only watch in agony as the net bulged. Lesego Radiakanyo then doubled the lead two minutes after the break when she side footed the ball home after a quick transition move.

Burundi then halved the deficit in the 52nd minute as Sandria Niyonkuru reacted the quickest to Mares goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija’s parried save to tap the ball in the net. After setting up the second goal, Refilwe Tholakele then rifled her shot past the Burundi keeper to restore the Mares’ two goal lead.

Tholakele then added her second and the Mares’ fourth goal on the night after a move which started with the team winning back possession on the edge of their opponents’ box. Once again Niyonkuru then scored what proved to be a consolation goal in the 81st minute.

Their group features familiar foes South Africa and 11 time African champions Nigeria but they are currently at the summit after outperforming their Group C rivals. Nigeria lost 2-1 in their opening game against South Africa, SA’s narrow win has seen Botswana assume the top spot with a +2 goal difference. The Mares’ next game will be against Nigeria tomorrow (Thursday) at 10pm (Botswana time).