Botswana national Under 23 football team surmounted difficulties to earn a credible 1 ÔÇô 1 draw away to Malawi in the second leg of the Afcon U23 final qualifiers.
Trailing 1 ÔÇô 2 to their foes from the first leg encounter here at home, the young Zebras, who also had to contend with a hostile away crowd, had to play the game without their kit as it was lost in transit.
According to Botswana Football Association (BFA) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Tumo Mpatane, the luggage was mistakenly sent to Harare, Zimbabwe instead of Blantyre, Malawi.
Despite these setbacks, team coach Letang Kgengwenyane said the team acquitted itself very well away from home. He said following the ‘lost kits incident,’ the boys were ‘badly affected psychologically and disheartened.’
As such, the team management then had a heart to heart engagement with the boys to calm their minds and reignite their self confidence.
Kgengwenyane said the talk paid dividends as his boys played their skins out to earn what was a very credible draw away from home.
“The boys played far much better as compared to how they did back home, the talk really helped. They managed to draw against Malawi which shows that they got their drive back,” Kgengwenyane said.
Commenting on the matter, the BFA, through its spokesperson, said ‘the association had learnt a valuable lesson’ from the incident, which was a first for Botswana.
“Accidents do happen in football even to world class football teams it is unfortunate that it happened to Botswana, and we cannot blame the association for what occurred,” he said.
He however said in future, the association will depart from the norm and allow each of the boys to travel with one replica, being pants and shirt, in their hand backpacks’ and allow the other two kits to go with luggage as national teams usually travel with three kits.
Meanwhile, Mpatane praised the team for their valiant efforts away from home despite the setbacks. He highlighted that even though the boys road to the AFCON had been cut short, they had given their best.
“The dream team was able to play and played very well, it is without luck that they only scored 1 goal and missed three chances at the goal post,” said Mpatane.
He said as an association, they have high hopes that the dream team will go from strength to strength and will make the country proud in future.