After almost four years without any local team participating in the African club competitions, two Botswana teams will finally represent the nation at the competition.
Gaborone United (GU) is set to battle it out with top South African side Orlando Pirates, while Uniao Flamengo Santos is pitted against Mozambique side, Costa Dol Sol.
GU will host Pirates on Saturday at UB stadium while Santos will be away to Mozambique on the same day.
Batswana have not watched local clubs participating in African competitions for a long time. The ones that have participated in the past rarely made it to the later stages.
The only teams that made significant progress are Notwane in 1995 and Township Rollers in 2006. Rollers made a name for themselves by defeating top Zambian side, Zesco United.
Currently, it remains to be seen whether the two local teams will progress further. No Botswana club has ever defeated any team from either South Africa or Mozambique. The last local team to play a Mozambiquen side was GU, which played against Ferroviaro de Maputo in 1994 and lost by an aggregate of 2-1.
South African sides on the other hand have always beaten Botswana sides by bigger margins. Kaiser chiefs once beat Gunners 6-0, Notwane lost against Supersport United (then Pretoria City) by 3-0 while Sundowns once hammered BMC 7-1.
Therefore GU is faced with a mammoth task in its encounter with Pirates. The Bucaneers’ chances of winning the league title in their own country look slim, and they will be concentrating on bringing home some silverware by winning the champions league.
South African sides have also not been doing well in African competitions. It was only Pirates that won the title in 1995. Since then the teams have been in a free fall.
This might be due to the fact that unlike in their domestic league, the African competitions are not lucrative money wise. Santos will be making their maiden appearance in the African championships. The team is full of youngsters who have a wealth of international experience.
Unfortunately, Santos will be playing without the services of the duo of Thapelo Sethebethe and Boitshoko Zikhali. Both players are presently injured. They have been instrumental in the current impressive performance of Santos. The team left yesterday (Tuesday) for South Africa where they are expected to play several friendly matches before crossing into Mozambique. Santos coach Clever Hunda is confident that the team will bring positive results. He told The Telegraph that the team might be full of youngsters but they are hungry for success and might pull a surprise. “We are playing against a team that is full of international players and has been playing in African competitions for too long. I am however unfazed by that and I am hopeful that we will bring something positive from the match,” said Hunda.