If the Zebras’ play against Zambia in the previous encounter is anything to go by, they are in trouble in the return leg this coming week.
Zebras might have won the encounter by a solitary goal, but their finishing was still mediocre. They only won the game thanks to an own goal from Zambian defender, White Simwanza.
Zambia, who, in the past, proved to be Botswana’s hoodoo team, are doing all in their power to win the second leg.
Zambia brought to Botswana their Olympic squad blended with the under 20s and, in the return to be played at Woodlands Stadium in Lusaka, Chipolopolo have recalled six regular team players to avenge the first leg defeat. According to the Zambian media the six players make the nucleus of the Zambian national team and might easily overcome the Zebras.
Looking at the Zebras record in Zambia, the Zambians might be deadly and might leave Botswana with their tails tucked between their legs. Botswana is yet to defeat Zambia in official games let alone in Zambia.
The Zambians have recalled their players Mike Poto (goalkeeper), Hichani Homonde, William Chinyama (defenders), Sebastian Mwansa (midfield) and strikers, Reuben Tempo and Emmanuel Mayuka.
For the Zebras, it remains to be seen how they will fare in Zambia where multitudes of Zambian supporters are expected to attend the game.
On the other hand, Botswana coach, Colywn Rowe, has since expressed optimism over the Zebras’ chances to advance to the next round. He said Zebras are one step ahead of Zambia because they did not concede at home.
Rowe added that if the Zebras can score at least a goal, it would then be a mountain to climb for Zambia since they would be forced to score at least three goals.
But the Zebras are unlikely to get a goal because the available strikers have been huffing and puffing in front of goal. These are the same strikers that score for their clubs day in and day out.
Some pundits have blamed the lack of goals on coach Rowe’s tactics saying his tactics make it harder for strikers to score. Some say the formation he normally uses restrict quick players to open up the defence with their pace and lay perfect crosses for strikers.
The players in question are Joel Mogorosi and Nelson Gabolwelwe, especially in the 3:5:2 formation. That forces them to time and again drop to the back instead of mostly doing what they are excellent at.
At the end of the day, the onus is on the coach and no one can pick the team for him. Other critics have pointed fingers at Rowe for not giving many youngsters a chance to prove themselves but instead he relies on the same players, regardless of the magnitude of the game. This, some people believe, has a negative impact in the past games the Zebras lost and might even be the case against Zambia.
A win for the Zebras will be historic because they have never defeated Zambia at home. Rowe is expected to start with the same team he used in Gaborone. He introduced a new partnership of Keoagetse Barnes Radipotsane and Vincent Phiri in the midfield, with Mafoko playing behind them. Upfront, Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping plays alongside Pontsho Moloi.
The partnerships looked good but, unfortunately, yielded little results.