Botswana’s national Under 23 team is now out of active competitions after being knocked out from the All Africa Games qualifying by Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe beat Botswana 4-1 in the second leg in an encounter played in Harare on Sunday to shatter Botswana’s dreams of making their maiden appearance at the Games.
The loss to Zimbabwe follows that of Egypt that also beat Botswana with an aggregate of 3-2 in the Olympic qualifying Games.
After drawing 2-2 in the first leg in Gaborone a fortnight ago, many Batswana thought Botswana would come with guns blazing because Zimbabwe were without the services of their two key players who were sent off in Gaborone.
But Zimbabwe had other plans as they called two of their players based in South Africa and England.
The victory by the Young Warriors also means Botswana is yet to win against Zimbabwe in an official match.
For many years, Zimbabwe has wielded the axe over Botswana. Many Batswana had hopes that the current Under 23 team would do well because of the quality of the players in the team. Also their predecessors under the tutelage of Major David Bright did well because they qualified for the group stages of the Olympic Games. For the All Africa Games, Bright’s team was knocked out in the last match before they could make it.
Against Zimbabwe, Botswana generally played well and possessed for most of the time but lacked fire power upfront. Zimbabwe was deadly on the wings and Botswana’s wing backs struggled to contain them.
Botswana’s loss, on the other hand, is a big blow to the senior team because they are automatically the feeder team. Bearing in mind that the Zebras have qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) something drastic needs to be done by the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
Former Gaborone United coach, Stanley Mwaanga, told The Telegraph that Under 23 loss should be taken seriously because for the next four years, the senior team will be busy and hence Botswana should act now and mobilize the national Under 20.
“After 2012 (AFCON), there will be the 2013 edition and the World Cup the following year and this means feeder teams should always be active and ready. The current crop of the team is ageing; in a few years, they will not be there,” he said.
One coach who preferred anonymity said BFA should have two senior national teams and a national under 23 or else the Zebras will be spectators at the 2012 AFCON.