The Mares, as Botswana women’s national team is affectionately called, will be seeking to write their own history when they host Zimbabwe at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium today (Wednesday).
Following their 3 – 1 win over their Zimbabwe counterparts this past Friday, the local lasses will go into the Wednesday encounter knowing nothing but qualification will be acceptable outcome.
Should they qualify, the local girls will have put their names in the annuls of Botswana’s football history as the first national women’s team to qualify for the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON).
The qualification will also give credence to the long-touted song of those who called for more investment into local women’s football. The women’s game has always been seen as a low hanging fruit for Botswana football’s quest for glory.
With the men’s team finding it hard to qualify for major tournaments, the ever-improving women’s game has always been seen as Botswana’s fastest possible route to the World Cup, and qualifying for Afcon will give hope the dream is even closer.
Sweeter still, the qualification will have come at a time when the local women’s league has just resumed after a more than two-years hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the team’s long suffering and long serving coach Gaoletlhoo Ronaldo Nkutlwisang, a ticket to the AWCON finals in Morocco will be a validation of her credentials.
Over the many years she has been in charge, Nkutlwisang has overseen a dramatic change in the fortunes of ‘The Mares.’ Where the team was once the whipping girls, Nkutlwisang has managed to turn its fortunes and they are now offering a whipping of their own.
All this has been achieved despite persistent calls from critics for ‘The Mares’ coach to be relieved of her duties. The critics have always cited that the coach has stayed for a long time in her job.
Speaking in an interview, an upbeat Nkutlwisang said the team is ready to complete the job it started. “What happened in Zimbabwe will not count. Our determination is to win the game and qualify.”
“We are going in this game ready to fight. The morale in the camp is very high. We only have knocks from the previous game but have no major injuries. All that which we need right now is a little recovery time,” she explained.
Despite persistent calls for her head, Nkutlwisang said she is currently focused only in her mission to qualify the team for its maiden AWCON. She said she is under no pressure and she will continue to give her best for the country and the team.
“All we ask for is for Batswana to unite behind the team and support it,” she pleaded.