Sunday, September 27, 2020

Another mission impossible for soccer’s Under 20s

Just like the senior national teams, Botswana’s youth teams have been faring badly even in the regional tournaments.
The major achievement by Botswana’s youth team was the qualifications by the Under 17 for the African Youth Championships. The Under 17 qualified for the African Championships in 1995 and 97. The qualification is not genuine in some football circles because Botswana qualified in the boardroom in 1995 and was given a ticket to Mali after Zambia was suspended for allegedly using over-aged players. This was after Zambia had humiliated Botswana with an aggregate of 6-1.

At the 1995 championships, Botswana were humiliated and failed to even bring a point.

Botswana then played in the next Under 17 youth championships after their automatic qualification by virtue of being the hosts and still performed dismally.

The Botswana youth team that came closest to making it to the grueling stages was the national Under 20 this year.

They were stopped in the last game by South Africa, which won by an aggregate of 4-1.

The regional Council for Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) has been one tournament in which Botswana fared badly, regardless of how weak teams in their group where.
The tournament gets underway next week and many Batswana are waiting with abated breath to see whether the team will do the nation proud because the game is the only international assignment of note. Already the team is under unhealthy circumstances following the booting out of the head coach, Oris ‘Boyo’ Radipotsane, together with manager, Obvious Moyo.

The reasons for the sacking of the two have not been made public by the Botswana Football Association. But Radipotsane’s recent outbursts complaining about low allowances are seen as the main reason he was shown the door.

BFA’s technical advisor, Losikalame Keatlholetswe, has however since refuted the claims.

Radipotsane was also quoted in one of the local radio stations as saying the team lost their last game to South Africa because he did not want it to qualify only for someone else to take over because it was already clear he was going to be shown the door.

Botswana’s has been pitted against old rivals, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mauritius.
Mauritius is the only team that has been Botswana’s bread and butter in the past competitions, but Zimbabwe and Malawi have always been difficult for Botswana.

Just two years ago in Mafikeng, Malawi spoiled Botswana’s party coming from two goals down to beat Botswana 3-2 thus denying them a chance to progress to the semi-finals.

Botswana then humiliated Mauritius 6-2 and current Under 23 international, Tebogo Sembowa, scored a hat trick.
On the other hand, if all the dedication of the players would equal that of the African championships qualifiers, Botswana might end up somewhere.

Players like Gunners enterprising winger, Kgololo Leteane, Aubrey Kebonnetse (Township Rollers) and Gaopatwe ‘Shoes’ Seosenyeng, together with Rollers goalkeeper, Tebogo Dambe, hold the key for the team.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.