Botswana’s national team, the Zebras, is indeed cruising to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The team has had impressive plays that look set to take them to AFCON for the first time in their history.
Never in the history of Botswana football has a national team registered victories and for that matter against established soccer nations like Tunisia and Togo.
Africa is now watching in shock as Botswana shows no respect for the countries Botswana never dreamed of scoring a goal against in the past. Both Togo and Tunisia were at the 2006 World Cup in Germany but Botswana is yet to qualify for AFCON.
Just two months ago when the World Cup was in full swing in neigbouring South Africa, Botswana went to Tunisia where, against all odds, they won by a solitary goal.
We remember that six years earlier, Botswana lost 4-1 at the same venue. Many people started taking note of Botswana and, in turn, the team did not disappoint as a month later they won 1-0 against less fancied Chad before drawing with Malawi 1-1 few weeks later.
The 2-1 victory against Togo on Saturday is the one that left many people shell-shocked.
With goals coming from winger, Joel Mogorosi and Jerome Ramatlhakwane, the Zebras consolidated their lead in Group K.
On 10 points, the victory means Botswana leads the group, followed by Tunisia with four points.
This also means that the Zebras’ fate for their maiden qualifications lies in their hands because they have never had a chance like the current one.
If they can get four points from the remaining matches they can be guaranteed a place to the biennial competition.
The Zebras improvement was slow in coming but it came just at the right time.
It all started when the national Under 23 team, under the tutelage of Major David Bright, showed great composure during the qualifications for the past All Africa Games and the Olympics.
After then, several local players started making their way into the South African Premier League.
Already some of those players who were in the Under 23 are already doing the job for the national team.
Against Togo there were five South African-based players and one could see that they are learning something they have been missing in the local Premier League.
For instance, the first goal came courtesy of a beautiful cross from Orlando Pirates winger, Phenyo Mongala. The second goal was scored by Cape Town based striker, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, who made a beautiful run on the right flank and managed to beat an offside trap before clinically passing past the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net.
After the match, coach Stanley Tshosane was a happy man. But he was very cautious saying that they are taking it a game at a time.
He also lamented wastefulness of the team in front of goal, saying they could have buried Togo with an avalanche of goals.
Botswana is now left with four matches for the second round, two in Gaborone and two away.
They will host both Tunisia and Malawi and will also fly to Ndjamena, Chad and Lome, Togo.
They start their second round campaign in November when they host Cathridge Eagles of Tunisia.
The other matches will be played next year.