Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Mares to face Zambia under no pressure

Botswana women senior national football team, The Mares, will be under no pressure when they face Zambia in a grudge COSAFA Women Senior Cup tournament semifinal tomorrow (Thursday).

The Mares are yet to register a victory over their Zambian counterparts in all games and will be looking to erase that history.

Since the inception of the COSAFA senior women tournament, the local ladies have not won against Zambia, with their best result being a 1 – 1 draw in the group stages of last year’s edition of the tournament.

In 2008, the duo faced each other in the group stages and Botswana lost as Zambia proceeded to the next stage.

It was more of the same for Botswana ladies in 2011 as Zambia beat them 4 – 1 to kick them out of the group stage.

In last year’s edition, the duo was placed in the same group and both managed to proceed to the semi-finals, where they faced each other.

When the local girls face Zambia this coming Thursday in a repeat of last year’s COSAFA semi-finals encounter which ended with the local girls losing 4 – 0, some sweet revenge will be uppermost in their minds.

After beating Botswana in the COSAFA semifinals, the local girls were once again in the losing end two months later as the Zambians knocked them out of the Tokyo 2020/1 Olympic qualifiers.

For Head Coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang, history will count for less when her charges take on their nemesis this time around.

She says her team has now reached its set target of reaching semi-finals and will now be going all out to add some shine into their performances when facing Zambia.

With the local lasses having not played competitively for close to eight months, Nkutlwisang says their performances have been heroic.

“In our first game, we showed some little bit of rust due to lack of match fitness. We have however improved and it showed during our game against Zimbabwe,” The Mares head coach explained.

She says because of their circumstances, they have been working preserving energy and containing opponents in the first half.

This has paid dividends as Nkutlwisang’s charges have now been able to use more energy in the second half which resulted with them winning all their group encounters.

“In both our encounters with Tanzania and Zimbabwe, our goals came in the second half when our opponents were getting tired and we could effectively use our speed in counter attacks,” she explained.

Now with the team having gained some match fitness, Nkutlwisang says they will be planning a different approach against Zambia.

“The technical team will be going over the match videos of Zambia and analyzing them to see how best we can approach the game,” she said.

“At the moment, we are not worried about them. We are under no pressure and we are optimistic we can cause an upset,” Gaoletlhoo explained.

The winner of the encounter will go on to face either South Africa or Malawi in the finals while the loser will play in the third place playoffs. The game will be played at 12noon.

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