After years of trying, Botswana women’s senior national football team, ‘The Mares,’ will finally make their debut at the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAfcon) on Monday, 4th July next week.
Botswana has been placed in Group C at the finals and will have to see through Nigeria, South Africa and Burundi, if they are to make it out of the group stages.
For their first ever games at the finals, ‘The Mares’ of Botswana will take on fellow debutants Burundi. They will then take on Nigeria three days later on the 7th July before concluding their group stages with a game against neighbours South Africa on the 10th of July.
While the team will surely fancy their chances against Burundi, there is no doubt that it will be up against it when it faces Africa’s most populous nations of Nigeria and South Africa.
Both ‘The Super Falcons’ of Nigeria and Banyana Banyana of South Africa are ranked way ahead of Botswana in FIFA women standings. The two nations are also not bereft of talent and will be able to call on some of their overseas based players for the tournament.
Though Botswana has previously played against Banyana Banyana of South Africa several times, theirs will be a grudge match. When the two last met in a high caliber match, Botswana beat South Africa, denying them an opportunity to play at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic qualifiers in the process.
On the other hand, ‘The Super Falcons’ are the highest ranked team in Africa and are the nine time African champions. Luckily for Botswana, unlike with Banyana, they will be a closed book to Nigerian women and will be hopefully make it count.
Meanwhile, ‘The Mares’ are already in Morocco where they are acclimatizing ahead of the start of the WAfcon finals. The team has been in the host country since the 20th of this month (June).
While in Morocco, the team, which had only one friendly against Zambia during preparations, had planned to play some international friendly games against some of the countries which are not in their same group.
The first of those matches was expected to be against Uganda this past Saturday but the match had to be called off after the Ugandans arrived late into Morocco. In place of Uganda, Botswana rustled a quick practice match with Najah Sous FC of Morocco, which they unsurprisingly trounced 7 – 0.
Circumstances allowing, Botswana will now have a last friendly date with Togo today (29th June) in Marrakech. The team is expected to then head to Rabat for the start of the tournament.