Egypt and Tottenham Hotspurs temperamental striker Ahmed “Mido” Hossam last week lauded Zebras’ number one goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo, for his heroics in the Afcon qualifier at Gaborone’s National Stadium.
Speaking to Sunday Standard Sport in the Egyptian dressing room after the game, the former Ajax Amsterdam hitman said that had it not been for Marumo, his team could have scored a dozen goals.
“I am surprised he has not got a contract overseas. He is such a great keeper with good reflexes. He also communicates well with his defenders. However, he should improve on his ball distribution. In any case, the way he distributed the ball worked well for his team. You will agree with me that your team (Botswana) never intended to play. They were so defensive,” said Mido.
Marumo was called into action as early as the third minute of the game when his defence was caught ball watching. The BDF XI net minder had to parry Ahmed Hassan’s scorcher for a corner.
However, credit in that game must also go to the Zebras’ four men defence of Khumo “Shoes” Motlhabane, Ernest “Nansi Ndoda” Amos, Mompati “Apache” Thuma and Ndiapo “The Bell Driver” Letsholathebe. The quartet stood firm even when the experienced Egyptian midfielders overwhelmed the Zebras midfielders.
Said Mido about the Zebras’ defence, “ Yes, they are typical African guys. In Africa, that is what we expect. The defenders here don’t give strikers space to breath. But most of your players played like defenders except that boy who was wearing number 7 (Dirang Moloi). You will never score goals if you kick any ball hopelessly. You should learn to create from the midfield and that is what he was trying to do.”
Moloi made his full debut for the Zebras in this tie. The Notwane talisman was not scared of taking on his well-built opponents. He always looked for space before releasing his balls. Three of his killer passes to his strikers turned into half chances for the Zebras strikers.
The Zebras team that played against Egypt showed signs of class as more ball players made the starting eleven.
Colwyn Rowe proved to many that he was a shrewd tactician as he juggled his line-up a bit. Many people’s favourite for the holding role’s position before the game was Township Rollers anchorman Boitumelo Mafoko. Rowe went out of his way to deploy Michael “Lepako” Mogaladi alongside Keoagetse “Barnes” Radipotsane. Even if Egypt controlled proceedings in the centre of the park, the new look Zebras midfield did not disappoint. They managed to string a few passes together, much to the delight of many Batswana who had thronged the national stadium.
Another crowd favourite in the left wing position, Joel “16” Mogorosi of Township Rollers, was left on the bench for the entire game. Another left-winger, Nelson “Viola” Gabolwelwe, also did not see any action.
From the look of things, tactician Rowe is headed in the right direction. He remained cool and calm even when the boisterous Zebras fans called for substitutions, a sign that he stuck to his game plan.
Rowe’s manager Mike Williams said after the game, “This is a good start for us. This team will go far. It wasn’t easy to keep the Egyptian strikers at bay. Colwyn got his game plan right and Botswana should get a little bit of respect from Egypt I think.”
Other AFCON qualifiers results: Malawi 1 Zimbabwe 0
Lesotho 0 Nigeria 1
Zambia 0 South Africa
Ivory Coast 5 Gabon 0
Angola 3 Kenya 0
Burundi 3 Mauritania 1
Burkina Faso 1 Senegal 0
Benin 2 Sierra Leone 0
Algeria 1 Gambia 0