Notwane football Club Under 17 arrived back home on Friday late afternoon from South Africa after losing out to Kaiser Chiefs on goal difference. The lads were in the same group as PIFA CYFC of India, Inter Milan and SAFA Sedibeng Select playing 3-1, 0-1, and 3-1 respectively. Only four teams could qualify and that had to be all the top teams and the best runner-ups. A superior goal difference of two goals saw Kaiser Chiefs through to the semi finals. The other teams that made it through as expected, were FC Inter Milan of Italy, Boca Juniors of Argentina the only surprise was the non qualification of Brazil’s SC Corinthians, as they finished behind Chiefs and Esperance of Tunisia.
Notwane were invited to the tournament by Ray Whelam who has been to Botswana before, as he had an early input on players like Diphetogo Selolwane and has worked with the likes of the late Sam Sono. Notwane’s youthful coach, Christopher Rabalago, lavished praise on his young charges for the sterling performance in their first ever international experience. He said that, above all pleasing factors is the fact that his boys managed to match the Italians even against their well executed play varying interchangeably from short passes to aerial balls and physic to Notwane’s short passes and non combative style of play. He, however, said the Italians, Brazilians, and the Argentineans were generally superior on all aspects as they showed to have started development as early as six years old. For Rabalago, he said it was a learning curve and explained that the tournament was more psychological than maybe tactical as he spent most of the time instilling a sense of belief of his troops who duly replied.
“I told them that these teams do not exactly know what to expect from us, and be aware that is their first time on African soil and we should go out there and show them what we are made of,” he said. The team captain, Moabi Tshephe, echoed most of his coach’s words and added that they played with no pressure at all as they had confidence in their abilities.
“We did not go there to admire the Italians or Brazilians. We, instead, went to compete,” said the young skipper. He said they played well and were happy with their performances. He also said he picked up that they played the same type of football of skill and speed just like their South African counterparts. His word of advice to fellow development players, not just the Notwane ones, is to balance up school and football. The head of Delegation to the tournament, the vice chairmen of the team, Mothusi Lekalake, was too impressed with the team’s performance. He explained that the tournament is a start to the region to obtain the necessary exposure so as to compete for attention with Francophone countries that generally have always enjoyed the favour of European scouts.
He also revealed that Notwane managed to build networking relations with South African teams. We have their contact details, they have ours and we will be making follow ups,” he said. He also said that Inter Milan and other team officials as well got the club’s details and might, as a result in future, get invited for tournaments in Europe to play against sides like Manchester United and other teams.
“They basically were impressed with our quality and have told us about the tournaments they have in their respective regions and promised us invitations to those.” The BFA was represented by development Coach Julesic Veselin.