April 11 2010: For the past five years, Botswana made some notable strides in international football.
It all started in 2006 when Botswana drew with Egypt for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt, which is still the reigning African champions, was also champions then.
From there, it was the national Under 23 team that qualified for the group stages of the 2008 Olympics. Although Botswana failed to qualify for the games, it was a huge milestone for the country.
Big guns like Tunisia, Morocco, Guinea were Botswana’s victims. The Under 23 team also went a step further by bowing out in the last match before the 2007 All Africa Games.
Now all eyes are on Gaborone United (GU) to make another historic moment for the country.
No Botswana team has reached the group stages or the last eight of any club African competitions. GU is on the verge of doing just that when they meet their Zimbabwean counter parts, Dynamos.
The two will be slugging it out for the first leg on April 25 in Harare. ‘Moyagoleele’, as GU is affectionately called, are in the second round whereby only 16 teams are left.
The two last local clubs that reached that stage are Township Rollers and Notwane.
Rollers did it in 2006 after beating a Seychelles and Zambian sides. The prominent victory was, however, against the Zambian side, Zesco United, which is currently a force to reckon with in African football.
Rollers were eventually eliminated by an Angolan side, Inter Club de Luanda. Notwane, on the other hand, were untouchable in 1995.
They started by eliminating Swaziland side, Mhabanyantsi Rovers, before edging out Fire Brigade of Mauritius. In the last 16, they met South African side Pretoria City (Now Supersport United).
Notwane did very well in the first leg away when they lost by two goals to one but were embarrassing at the National Stadium when Supersport demolished them 3-0.
Interestingly, GU is coached by the very same man who was at the helm of the Under 23 when they were making a name for themselves.
David Bright also has vast international experience having guided Mogoditshane Fighters to several African competitions.
Bright also once had a stint with the senior national team meaning that GU have found someone they need in their African expedition.
Already GU has made a historic victory for themselves after defeating South African giants and former African Champions, Orlando Pirates, in the preliminary stages.
What makes the duel between GU and Dynamos even more interesting is that no Botswana side has ever defeated a Zimbabwean side in an official competition.
Dynamos have also been performing extremely well in African competitions for the past two years. Their famous victory was last year against the then reigning champions, Esperance of Tunisia.
Dynamos arrived in Tunis on the morning of match day after experiencing financial challenges. They defied all the odds and defeated Esperance by a solitary goal.
Definitely, a victory by GU will be a double achievement for the country. But the question is: will GU go all out and do something other local teams failed to do in the past?