Botswana’s national Under 23 team leaves today (Sunday) for the Four Nations Tournament in China minus four key players. The absence of the four players could have an impact, especially in defence where two defenders, Tumisang Sekanonyane and Mosimanegape Ramohibidu, will be absent. Sekanonyane is nursing an injury while Ramohibidu has school commitments. On the other hand, striker Moemedi Moatlhaping and influential dribbling wizard, Phenyo Mongala, are also nursing injuries. Coach of the national Under 23, Major David Bright, believes the team will fair well despite the absence of the four players. Bright said that at the recent Sasol Eight Nations Tournament in South Africa, the team also missed the services of some top players but managed to upset the big guns. He said he does not rely on individual players and the team will be in China to compete not to make up the numbers.
“Of course, yes, we will be missing some of our players who have been with the team for a long time. People must bear in mind that recently at the Sasol Eight Nations Tournament in South Africa, Moatlhaping and Mongala were not there. But we managed to defeat big countries like China, Ghana and even Cameroon. I am happy with the players I have and we will be in China to make our presence felt. We would not be there to make numbers, but to compete,” said Bright.
Bright also stressed that if the players can show the same character they did during the Sasol tournament, Asia is going to be taken by surprise.
Botswana will play three games against South Korea, Japan and the hosts, China. Botswana might find the going tough because information reaching Sunday Standard indicates that the participating countries are taking the tournament seriously because they are vying to qualify for next year’s Olympics that will be held on their own continent and want to sharpen up. Most of the players that are going to feature are the ones that took part at the Asian Cup that ends today.
On the other hand, Botswana players might be motivated by the fact that there will be prize money for the tournament unlike the Eight Nations one in South Africa that was a mere friendly. The first prize will be $40 000 (P260 000), second, $ 30 000 (P195 000), third $ 20 000 (P130 000) while the fourth prize carries $ 10 000 (P65 000). This means Botswana is already guaranteed something no matter how the fare.
The squad leaves on Sunday and will play their first game on Wednesday. Neither the fixtures of the tournament nor the times were available at the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, first choice goalkeeper, Noah Maposa, will join the team latter because he will be engaged with the senior team. Since the injury of second choice goalkeeper, Kagiso Tshelametsi, Maposa has found his way into the team and he is tipped to succeed first choice goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo, who is contemplating calling it quits as he feels that age is catching up with him.
At the Sasol tournament in South Africa, Maposa was voted goalkeeper of the tournament and has even caught the eye of some clubs in South Africa who are closely following his progress. If he can carry on from where he left off in South Africa, he might attract the attention of some teams in Asia.
The trip to China was co-sponsored by mining giants, Debswana, Cellular Company Mascom and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce (CCC). Both Debswana and Mascom popped P150 000 while CCC gave P30 000. Transport Company, AT and T Monnakgotla, also provided free transport to the team to Johannesburg international airport. The South African High Commissioner to Botswana, Dikgang Moopeloa, is also reportedly negotiating hefty discounts on air tickets from Johannesburg to China. While in China the team will play in the city of Shenyang.
Bright will leave for China with a pool of 19 players and the duo of Godiragetse Mecunyane and Aobakwe Matanire are on standby.
Edwin Olerile, Thebe Maiketso, Gabriel Bokhutlo, Lesego Molemogi, Mmusa Ohilwe, Kaone Molefhe (Township Rollers), Boniface Makolo, Gobonyeone Selefa, Maposa, Kekaetswe Moloi (Mochudi Centre Chiefs). Jenamiso Keabetswe, Jackie Mothatego, Molatedi Mabina (Uniao Flamengo Santos, Alphonse Modisaotsile, (Tafic), Mosimanyana Moreetsi (Orapa Wanderes), Amos Godirwang (Mogoditshane Fighters, Kemmy Pilato (Lobtrans Gunners), Itumeleng Selepa (FC Palapye) and Tebogo Sembowa of Ecco City Greens.