Monday, July 15, 2024

Botswana’s Mares outrun Copper Queens for a spot in COSAFA finals

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Botswana senior women football national team seems to be dishing a lot of this recently.

After years of suffering at the hands of neighbours Zambia and South Africa, the local girls are now revelling in exerting somelong-awaited sweet revenge.

On Wednesday, Botswana’s own beat Zambia 2 – 1 to book themselves a spot in the COSAFA senior Women cup, a first in close to two decades.

A well laced shot to the top corner by Lone Gaofetoge and a penalty by Refilwe ‘Seven’ Tholakele were enough to see off Zambia as the Botswana ladies set a debut final date with hosts South Africa.

Making the local girls’ victory even sweeter was the fact that Botswana’s Mares had not kicked a ball for almost eight months, that is until they arrived in Port Elizabeth for the COSAFA women cup.

As they sought match fitness, they had to play with grit and determination, something which shone through as they edged out Zambia’s Copper Queens.

Even as the Zambians piled on the pressure and threatened a comeback after Ireen Lungu halved the deficit, the Mares did not budge.

Whereas Zambia enjoyed the bulk of the possession and had 31 shots at goal and 17 corners, Botswana only had two shots at goal and no corner. 

The local women however ran the ground and covered every blade of the grass. Where the Zambians breached the defence, they found goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija ready and waiting.

Of the 21 shots on target she faced, Bosija conceded only one, earning herself player of the match plaudits on the day. 

The team’s courageous display has seemingly left a marked impression on head coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang.

“I am really proud of the girls, and how they approached this game despite the challenge we find ourselves in. Selebatso has lost her mother and we dedicate this win to her,” she said.

In addition to this, she highlighted that playing with young girls has came in handy as their energy and drive carried the rest of the team. 

Botswana is now eyeing the scalp of one of their bitter rivals and nemesis, the hosts South Africa, who booked a place in the finals after thrashing Malawi 6 – 2.

The encounter between the two will be a grudge match. Last year, Botswana cut short South Africa’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics dream, and the hosts will be seeking revenge.

With this in mind, Gaoletlhoo explained that the same approach they used for Zambia will be used again for the game against Banyana Banyana of South Africa.

“Our aim was reaching the semi-finals and being in the finals is an extra bonus for us. We are still under no pressure and we will approach our next game with the same attitude we had,” she explained. 

The final game between Botswana and South Africa will be played at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium tomorrow (Saturday). Kick off is at 1500 hrs. 

Meanwhile, as a token of appreciation for history making ladies’ team, the Minister of Sports Tumiso Rakgare has promised the team a sum of P250 000. 

The monies are expected to be shared equally among the team’s technical team and players.


Read this week's paper