When Botswana qualified for their first ever 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, they were in a very tough group and no one was hopeful they would advance. Botswana was in the same group as African giants, Tunisia and Togo together with Malawi and Chad. At face value, it was automatic that Tunisia and Togo would sail through and Malawi was seen as the third favourite.
Tunisia are naturally the African giants while Togo are the rising power with several high profile players under their belt. Botswana, however, went on to shock the world by finishing on top of the group and en-route they defeated Tunisia both at home and away and also defeated Togo at home. In the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Botswana was placed in what was known as group of death that comprised among others, Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia. Botswana finished at bottom of the group after losing all matches and drew just one. On the other hand the qualification for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations has pitted Botswana against Burkina Faso, Uganda and The Comoros islands and only the group winners go through to the tournament that will be held in Gabon.
Many consider the group as a relatively fair one, but it would not be an easy one mainly because of Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso has over the years proven to be a force to reckon with in Africa and have many good players across major leagues, mostly in France. Before reaching the finals in 2013, where they lost to Nigeria, The Stallions had reached the semi-finals for the 1998 tournament they hosted. The team is also making it a habit to qualify for almost every Afcon tournament. Popular names in the squad include the veteran, Moumouni Dagano, Traore brothers, Alain and Bertrand, Charles Kabore, Jonathan Pitriopa just to mention but a few. So far the youngest in the team, Bertrand is a Chelsea player on loan to Dutch Premier League team, Vitesse. On the other hand Burkina Faso parted ways with their longtime coach, Paul Put immediately after they bowed out of the group stages of 2015 Afcon.
Uganda is one of the most unfortunate team in as far as qualifying for Afcon is concerned. They failed to qualify for the last tournament on the last day of the qualifications. Comoros islands might be the minnows but if underestimated they can also cause havoc. On the other hand sports analyst, Fobby Radipotsane told The Telegraph Sports that the group Botswana has been drawn in is relatively fair, but that will depend on a lot of things. He said a consistent team and adequate preparations are key in helping the team to qualify.
“Having quality players in the team is a bonus for me. But what is important is on how you prepare with players that you regularly use. If we prepare well it does not matter who Burkina Faso brings on board. We have beaten big teams before and we can still do it now”, he said. On the other hand, Radipotsane added that Uganda can also be a big headache for Botswana because they normally prepare well,” he said.