The Botswana’s netball team experienced mixed fortunes in their medal quest during the ongoing 2nd Africa Youth Games. The local girls beat Zimbabwe 39 ÔÇô 38 in their opening game on Friday, but later lost 40 ÔÇô 39 to Kenya in a match played later on the same day. Botswana girls started their campaign on a positive note, beating Zimbabwe by a single point in a pulsating opening game. It was a see-saw match that could have gone either way, but Botswana held their ground and edged out Zimbabwe with a slight 39 – 38 win to keep their medal hopes alive.
The win was a much needed consolation and morale booster for Batswana, who had watched their football team succumbing to Nigeria in their opening game. In a game that kept spectators on the edge of their seats, Botswana girls clawed back from a lethargic start which saw them trailing Zimbabwe 5 ÔÇô 8 at the end of the first quarter, to set the country on the road to a potential medal.
While many thought the game would be an easy ride for the local girls, it was not to be as Zimbabwe were the quickest off the block, thanks to the attacking duo of goal shooter (GS)Lynette Tanhira and goal attacker (GA) Sharon Bwanali. The two players’ influence was evident from the first whistle as they scored at will to help Zimbabwe race to a 7 ÔÇô 1 lead over Botswana. On the other hand, Botswana’s attacking duo of captain Tara Matija (GS) and Aobakwe Mosekwa (GA) struggled to net many chances that came their way. However, the local girls were not deterred as they clawed back to reduce the deficit by the end of the quarter.
Things however changed in the second quarter as Botswana coach, Abednico Chitelo, brought in goal shooter Boikanyo Selogetso for Mosekiwa and switched Matija to goal attack. The changes also saw Kagiso Mothuba being switched back from wing attack to centre. The changes immediately paid dividends as Botswana took the initiative and put Zimbabwe under pressure. Team Botswana was inspired and the duo of Matija and Selogetso tormented the Zimbabwean defense.
Selogetso in particular was impressive, singlehandedly scoring almost all of Botswana’s points as a recharged Botswana came back from a three point deficit at the end of the first quarter to take a 20 ÔÇô 19 lead at the end of the second quarter. The third quarter was a see-saw affair as both teams exchanged blows, with neither gaining an upper hand.
In a very fast paced quarter, the two teams cancelled each other out and ended the quarter having scored 9 points each, leaving Botswana still clinging to a one point lead to enter the fourth and final quarter leading 29 ÔÇô 28. It was more of the same in the final quarter as Botswana held on to their one point lead to edge Zimbabwe 39 ÔÇô 38 and win the game. As with the previous quarter, this was a balanced quarter as both teams cancelled each other out and scored 10 points each. Despite their loss against Kenya, the local girls are still expected to be on the medal podium when the games come to an end in ten days time.