The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has revealed that it will put its weight behind the Young Zebras to ensure they qualify for a major tournament.
Currently, the Young Zebras, under the tutelage of coach Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare, are involved in the qualifiers for both the Olympic Games and All Africa Games (AAG). If they qualify for one of the tournaments, they will have re-written the record books as the first side from this country to reach the finals of a major tournament.
Recently, there have been doubts about the BFA’s focus on the Zebras’ quest to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup (AFCON), with accusations that the mother body had forgotten about the junior team’s important qualifiers. Even the media has been in the firing line from the public for not doing enough to promote the junior team.
The Young Zebras have a tricky away assignment against Egypt on March 27 in the first leg of the Olympic Games to be held in London next year. This will be the Young Zebras’ biggest test and many believe that if they beat the young Pharaohs, the chances of qualifying for the games will be high.
The local lads under Major David Bright came close to qualifying for the 2008 Olympics but were narrowly pipped to the spot by Cameroon. It was a run which saw the local lads beating Tunisia and Morocco in Gaborone, something which put Botswana football on the map. Next month, the Young Zebras will face another daunting task when they play Zimbabwe in the All Africa Games qualifier.
On Monday, BFA technical director Sonnyboy Sethibe quashed the reports and said his office is doing its best to ensure the team does well in the qualifiers. He noted that everytime the Zebras are called for camp, the Under-23s are also roped in to ensure the coach has a close look at them.
“We’re doing our best, recently we organized a friendly game against Mozambique for the Under-23s and they disappointed us at the last minute. We want to keep the team in shape for the upcoming games. We wrote to Ghana proposing a friendly for the coming weekend but they have not responded and I believe it’s not going to happen because it’s late,” said Sethibe.
He further revealed that they have secured an international friendly game against South Africa on the night of March 20, to ensure that the local lads have strong preparation before they depart for North Africa. He said his office is negotiating with Botswana Television (Btv) to beam the game live, hence a decision to take it to Lobatse Sports Complex.
The technical director pleaded with Batswana to extend the same support rendered to the Zebras to the Olympic team as it will boost their confidence.
Nare told The Telegraph after their training session on Monday that they appreciate the support they are getting from BFA. He said that they are going to do their best in the coming fixtures.
“This time around, we’re getting friendly games which will gauge the boys. The game against South Africa will help us to be in a good shape when we face Egypt,” he said. Nare pointed out that he has excluded Extension Gunners’ duo of Kgololo Leteane and Hendrick Moyo from the squad for different reasons. Leteane has always given selectors trouble whenever called for national duty. Moyo is said to be injured despite scoring for his team during the Coca-Cola Cup win over Nico United on Saturday.