Botswana’s national senior team, the Zebras might be headed for a disastrous journey in Burundi this weekend if recent results are anything to go by.
Zebras play Burundi away this coming weekend and already they lost two of their preparatory matches by heavy margins. They lost 3-0 to Platinum Stars last week and on Sunday lost 4-1 to Swaziland.
Against Burundi they will be facing a team that has a collection of Europe-based players.
Zebras’ coach James Peter Butler picked mostly young inexperienced players for the encounter and already some soccer experts have expressed their reservations about that.
Local supporters even vent their anger on Butler on Sunday night and left the Lobatse Sports Complex disappointed after watching a disjointed Zebras being heavily hammered 4-1 by visiting Swaziland in an international friendly match.
The local lads used the game as part of the preparations for the 2015 African Nations Cup qualifier against Burundi which will be played in Bujumbura on May 18.
Though the Zebras played without five of their foreign based players, their performance left a lot to be desired especially in the second half.
The match went to the break with the score reading 1-1 with the Swazis opening the scoring in the 26th minute through Captain Tony Tsabedze. Zebras’ stand-in captain Sekhana Koko equalized in the 33rd minute to bring hope to the handful but noisy crowd at the stadium.
After the break, things fell apart for the local lads as Isihlangu scored two goals from restart. Felix Badenhorst scored in the 50th minute before Moreetsi Mosimanyana scored an own goal a minute later.
Tsabedze put the final nail on the Zebras’ coffin in the 68th minute with a well taken shot from outside the box.
After watching the Zebras being toyed around by the visitors inside opening 25 minutes of the second half, the local fans made their frustrations clear when they booed their own stars and cheered wildly when the Swazis were in possession.
The visitors enjoyed the turn of events and pressed the Zebras further but they were unfortunate not to score more goals.
When they were put under cosh, the Zebras were always found at sixes and sevens. At the end of the game, a frustrated Zebras head coach Peter Butler walked across to Swazi bench to congratulate his colleague Harries Bulunga.
It was clear that Butler was wondering what could have hit side especially after he beat South Sudan in his debut match as Zebras coach.
He kept scratching his head while waiting to give the pressmen an interview. In his first media briefing upon his arrival in Botswana in February, Butler promised to build an attacking team which will be a marvel to watch. But it seemed the move backfired against the Swazis.
“I’m disappointed with the result because defensively we made some bad errors. We’re building a new team for the future. Obviously when you’re building some of these things are bound to happen. We’re expecting five South African based players and I believe that against Burundi we’ll be completely different,” said Butler in a post-match interview.
The Zebras are expecting the arrival of goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe, Galabgwe Moyana, Mogakolodi Ngele, Joel Mogorosi to join the Zebras camp before they depart for East Africa.
The availability of Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder Mogogi Gabonamong remains in the balance as he has not made up his mind about join the team.
Butler defended his decision to field inexperienced youngsters against the Swazis, saying he will continue using them.
“There is a lot of talent and they need to be given a chance. We were na├»ve and I take full responsibility (for the defeat) and I’m not going to give excuses,” he said.
Swazi coach Harries Bulunga summed up the game: “The last time we played the Zebras (at the Cosafa Cup in Zambia last year) they looked stronger. Today they were different side, we can see that they are in a rebuilding process. In the second half we did a lot of pressing and we upped our pace we could see that the Zebras struggled.” Despite the resounding win, Bulunga said that they need to focus on the upcoming qualifier against Sierra Leone in Mbabane on Sunday. He is aware that Sierra Leone will be a different proposition as they are ranked amongst the strongest sides in the continent.