The first time Botswana’s national Under 17 participated at continental championships was in 1995 in Mali where they performed dismally as they lost all their three opening games, managing only one goal. Botswana then qualified off the pitch after Zambia was disqualified for allegedly using over-aged players.
Botswana then went on to edge Malawi to book their ticket to Mali. Two years down the line, Botswana won the right to host the tournament and the country once again was disappointed as they failed to take home ground advantage and lost all their three opening games also, once again, scoring only one goal.
Since then, it has never been easy for Botswana as they have always been eliminated from the onset. Such a trend is continuing and it seems Botswana’s national Under 17 would once again have to wait for one opponent to be disqualified or Botswana has to, once again, host in order to play in the championships.
Bad memories of Botswana’s youth teams’ dismal performances were once again rekindled when the country failed to use home advantage and lost to Angola by two goals to one on Friday night at the National Stadium. The loss means Botswana lost by an aggregate score of 4-1 and has to wait for another two years.
The only goal for Botswana was scored via a penalty by Maikano Maikano ten minutes before half time.
Angola made the game impossible for Botswana when they equalised on the stroke of half time. That meant for Botswana to win, they had to score four goals.
Frustration then started to develop and the Angolans easily controlled the game. Botswana, on the other hand, had to rue their missed chances. Angolans looked a more determined and physical side hungry for success.
However, Botswana can be a very good side if the players can be made to be together for some time. On the other hand, team coach, Kaizer Kobedi, lamented inadequate preparations for the game. He said they did not prepare as they wanted. He also said what even exacerbates the situation is the fact that most of the players are school kids and busy preparing for their examinations. He said had it not been for that they would achieve quite a lot go because they have good players with potential.
Youth development coach Jellusic Vesselin lamented the lack of strong youth development structures. He said all was lost five years ago compared to the Angolans. “Our youth structures are not competitive compared to Angola. They have strong under 12s and 14s that play almost every weekend. But with time I think we can go somewhere but generally a lot of work needs to be done,” he said.