Saturday, March 25, 2023

Butler upbeat ahead of the group stages

The Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s poor financial plight will not disturb preparations for the 2015 African Nations Cup group matches which begin next month, Zebra’s coach James Butler has said.

It has been anticipated that the BFA’s current financial trouble could prevent the national team from getting an international friendly match before they take on Northern African giants Tunisia in Tunis on September 6.

The Zebras got a place in the groups following a 3-1 aggregate win against Guinea-Bissau in the second round of the qualifiers.
The home side has to outsmart their Group G opponents ÔÇô Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal ÔÇô if they are to book a place at the Morocco showpiece in January.

“We will have to modify our programme due to the financial constraints. The most important thing is to focus on our programme and plan well. All our three opponents are good teams with good players. We have to be more organized and go out there to give a good account of ourselves,” Butler said.

The Zebras, without foreign-based players, returned home last Thursday after playing to goalless draw against Angola at the Cidadela Stadium in Luanda ÔÇô a game that gave Butler another chance to have a look at his locally-based players.

“I’m delighted we have a good relationship within the team. There are going to be challenges but we’ve got to be practical and improvise,” he said.

The Zebras will kick off the games as underdogs but the Englishman is not a worried man. He said since the Premier League has kicked off, it will give him a chance to have a look at a number of players. The group games will be demanding and Butler is aware that he has to have a pool of players in case of suspensions and injuries.

The Englishman pointed out that in the past game against Guinea-Bissau, he could not have Polokwane City goalkeeper Modiri Marumo because the match did not fall under FIFA calendar. He is hopeful that when they take on Tunisia, the South African Premier League club will release the experienced goalkeeper.

Below is the full list of Zebras’ group matches;

September 6- Tunisia vs Botswana (a), Stade November 7, Tunis
September 10- Botswana vs Senegal (h), National Stadium, Gaborone
October 10- Botswana vs Egypt (h), National Stadium, Gaborone
October 15- Egypt vs Botswana (a), Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
November 14- Botswana vs Tunisia (h), National Stadium, Gaborone
November 19- Botswana vs Senegal (a), Stade Demba Diop, Dakar


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