Saturday, May 28, 2022

Botswana likely to cause an upset

Former Zambian Under 20 football coach, Honour Janza, says Botswana will be a team to watch during the Metropolitan Life sponsored Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Under 20 Championships, billed for Botswana this coming December.

Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport after the tournament’s draw at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) this past Friday, Janza said there are no underdogs in football anymore.

Janza, who won gold with the Zambian Under 20 football team at last year’s Metropolitan COSAFA Under 20 tournament in South Africa, says having watched Botswana’s performance at the past tournament, he believes the local lads have the potential to cause upsets in the tournament.
Botswana came third in last year’s tournament, behind winners Zambia and runners up and hosts, South Africa.

Despite Janza’s optimism, the Botswana Under 20 football team will not have it easy in the tournament after they were drawn into one of the toughest groups in the tournament.

The team has been pitted against Malawi and Zimbabwe as well as Swaziland in Group A.
The tournament starts on December 3 and comes to a close on December 12.

The first game will pit Botswana against Zimbabwe on December 3 at the University of Botswana (UB) Stadium.

Speaking to Standard Sport after the draw, Botswana’s team manager, Charity Madisa, said they intend to improve from last year’s bronze to win gold this time around. Madisa says despite the tough draw the team got, he is optimistic that the team will be buoyed by home ground advantage to do well in the tournament.

A disadvantage for the local lads will, however, be that while their age mates were involved in international competitions, they have been inactive after the local governing body failed to register them.

“We have only had a single camp in August this year and have not had any meaningful game. Hopefully we will have them all in camp very soon,” Madisa said.

He added that the problem is compounded by the fact that most of the players are students and it is difficult to get them into camp. The team manager told Standard Sport that having played all the teams in their group before, they have an idea of what to expect from each of them.

If the draw is anything to go by, this year’s tournament, the first to be held outside South Africa since the tournament started, promises to be explosive. Group B comprises of South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia.

While this may seem an easy stroll for South Africa’s Amajita, an interesting and fierce clash will be expected when they take on Lesotho after the latter knocked them out of the African Youth Championships billed for Libya next year.

Defending champions, Zambia, will have to see off Angola and Mauritius in Group C if they are to defend their cup. While the clash against Mauritius is seen as a walk in the park for Zambia, the team’s clash with Angola is likely to decide who makes it out of the group stages.

Commenting on Zambia’s group, Janza says though he cannot rule out Mauritius, their challenge will be against Angola who he describes as ‘physically, technically and tactically good.’

He, however, says the group is almost the replica of last year’s and they will be hoping to do as well as they did. He says while a lot of players from last year’s winning squad are still eligible for inclusion in the team, only a couple of them will be used as most have been pushed into the U23 team.

“There will be a lot of new faces in the team as we want to give many upcoming players a chance,” he informed Standard Sport.

Group D, which is viewed as relatively easy, will pit Madagascar, Mozambique and Seychelles against each other, with Mozambique the pundits’ select to go through.

UB Stadium and Molepolole Sports Complex have been designated to host the games. Molepolole will also host all the semi finals while the finals and the losers’ finals will be hosted at the UB Stadium.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper