Monday, December 6, 2021

Bafana Bafana once again in the way of Zebras

South Africa’s senior national team, Bafana Bafana are once again the main obstacle for Botswana in the regional COSAFA Castle Cup. Botswana has been pitted against South Africa for the tournament that starts in May and will be played in the Northwest province in South Africa. Botswana is yet to win the tournament and let alone reach the finals. The furthest the Botswana team has gone in the tournament is the semi-finals in 2006 after being knocked out by Zambia. If history is anything to go by, Botswana is once again facing an uphill battle if they are to progress to the semi-finals.
Of the four encounters both countries played, South Africa won three and Botswana only managed one. The first time both teams played in the tournament was in 1999 and South Africa won 2-1. Botswana’s solitary goal was scored by Diphetogo Selolwane’s. The second time was at the National Stadium in 2002 and South Africa won 5-4 after a penalty shootout following a goalless draw. On the other hand, 2006 saw Botswana winning 6-5 after a penalty shootout following a goalless draw at the National Stadium in Gaborone. South Africa on the other hand managed to win by a solitary goal in 2007 courtesy of Teko Modise’s free kick.
Both teams have been on the re-building process but it is South Africa that seems to be getting positive results. They did well in the qualifications for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with a relatively new team and qualified without losing a single point despite playing some of the continent’s strong opponents like Nigeria. The incumbent coach, Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, was the one at helm when South Africa won the tournament a few years ago. Countries that have won the tournament the most include the likes of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zebras on the other hand appear to be having a bit of a rough patch as far as re-building is concerned. The team had a calamitous Afcon campaign because they managed only a point from all their matches and a single goal. Even though the COSAFA Castle Cup falls off FIFA calendar and mostly consists of local based players, it remains to be seen how Botswana will perform. Botswana has several promising young players but their main undoing is lack of international experience. Critics have however been pointing fingers at coach; James Peter Butler whom they believe is not fit for the position. He mainly comes to the spotlight after clashing with some key players of the team and even making questionable selections.

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