While the rest of the world has been paying attention to the World Cup, whose finale is today (Sunday), Batswana’s attention has over the last few weeks been drawn to the national teams.
The Zebras have been busy with the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. It must be said that they have not disappointed.
In fact, they performed exceptionally well. It just might be possible that the Zebras will make their maiden appearance at the 2012 Afcon. That is if they keep on netting points as they have been doing recently.
Against all odds, the Zebras won two matches in the space of a week, and against a much fancied Tunisia and a less known Chad. Zebras won both matches by solitary goals, bagging six points while not conceding any goals.
Their latest victory came on Friday at the University of Botswana Stadium where they had to really sweat it out against Chad. Without doubt, Chad went down fighting, and their two all draw last week against highly rated Togo must have inspired them.
The Chad players are tall and physically strong. They looked like a team that was looking for a draw, and they played a physical game with long balls. This neutralized the Zebras a bit as they could not match the aerial strength of the Chadians. The Zebras were forced to play low and passing football and it positively worked for them.
In the first half, the Zebras were a bit jaded and could not coordinate well, especially in the midfield. That rendered the striking force ineffective.
On the other hand, the defense, led by Mompati Thuma, Musa Ohilwe, Ndiapo Letsholathebe, and Mosimanegape Ramohibidu did a marvelous job as they kept the tall Chad players at bay. Even goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo, was rarely troubled for almost the whole match.
In the second half, the Zebras were a changed team, and Chad was forced to chase their own shadows for most of the time. It was not surprising when Zebras broke the ice five minutes into the second half courtesy of Phenyo Mongala’s powerful shot.
The South African-based Mongala received a pass outside the eighteenth area and went for a powerful shot that left Dominique Teinkor sprawling on the turf. The goalkeeper thought he would lay a pass, especially to the right wing. The goal is one of the best ever scored for by Zebras.
The other goal that easily comes into the minds of Batswana was that of Diphetogo Selolwane against Mauritania two years ago at the National Stadium.
After the goal the Zebras pushed to increase the lead but could not convert upfront.
The other goal scored by Ofentse Nato was ruled offside. Mongala was undoubtedly the troublesome player as he tormented the visiting Chadians from both wings. Upon realizing that he was the most dangerous player, more than two Chadian players came after him.
Surprisingly, he was pulled out in the last ten minutes of the game for Centre Chiefs winger, Othusitse ‘Jabu’ Pilane.
After the game, coach Stanley Tshosane told Sunday Standard that he was impressed with the overall performance of the team. He said the most important thing is that they have collected maximum points and are yet to concede a goal.
“These results are definitely building the players’ confidence, and they will play much better in the upcoming matches. They started well and hopefully they will carry on to the last matches,” he said.
On the substitution, Tshosane said Mongala was struggling with a muscle pull, and he had to take him out with immediate effect.
Zebras will now play Malawi away next month. Meanwhile Malawi and Togo played to a one all draw on Friday.