This week, former Ghana marksman, Abedi Pele Ayew, described the Zebras as no hopers who will not give the Black Stars any problems when they meet on Tuesday.
It was a statement which was met with angry response from some local footballers who said Ayew would eat humble pie come end of 90 minutes. Somehow, the Ghanaian legend must be right considering that Ghana have been to the tournament many a times and won it four times in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982.
Locally, there are those who share the same sentiments with Ayew but others feel that the Zebras can cause the major upset of the tournament by defeating Ghana. The dust will settle on Tuesday evening; one thing for sure is the nation might be mourning or celebrating at the end of the game. Former Zebras’ exciting left-back, Naphtally ‘Scara’ Kebalepile, pointed out that the Zebras should expect a tough game. He said it is unfortunate that the Zebras have lost a key player in Joel Mogorosi due to an injury.
“Our strength is catching opponents on counter-attack and his (Mogorosi) absence is going to have a negative impact. I would have opted for Chicken (Sekhana Koko) in his place but we must rally behind the coach (Stanley Tshosane) because I assume he knows what he’s doing. I foresee the Zebras coming away with a draw in this one,” said Kebalepile.
Former Gaborone United midfielder Thero ‘Relax’ Gaadingwe predicts the worst for the Zebras. He said though he would like to see the Zebras winning, his guts tell him that the Zebras are going to lose by a big margin. “Ghana are favourites to win this tournament alongside Ivory Coast and I don’t see them succumbing to us. If we don’t lose to them, we might secure a draw having played the entire game under pressure,” he asserted. Gaadingwe further said that the absence of Mogorosi and suspended Dipsy Selolwane has not helped our cause going into this game.
Selolwane will be available for our next game against Guinea on January 28. For his part, Radio Botswana commentator Mmoloki ‘Smallboy’ Mothibi believes that the Zebras can do well against Ghana since the West Africans are under pressure to win the tournament. The Tonota-born journalist added that the Zebras’ main undoing might be stage fright since it will be their maiden appearance at the tournament.
“Other than that (stage fight), I see us holding our own. In the end, we lose but with a respectable margin. I’m saying this because Joel’s injury is going to have a negative impact in the coach’s plans because he relies mostly on the wingers,” he said.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ hardman Michael “Mahindra’ Mogaladi said that the Zebras have prepared well.
“The coach does not need anything to motivate the boys ahead of this game. They (players) know what to expect from the opposition and I don’t see them (Ghana) scoring easily. If we fail to win 1-0, I think the game will end in a stalemate,” he said.
Mogaladi pointed out that the fact that Ghana conducted their training sessions and friendly games behind closed doors while in Rustenburg, South Africa, is proof that they are wary of the Zebras.