“I don’t think we got beaten, I actually thought we beat ourselves… there were some good stuff, and there was some stuff which you would say with dread,” this is how Zebras Coach Peter Butler described his team’s display during their 2 ÔÇô 3 loss to Ethiopia on Independence Day. Just as with Coach Butler, for Batswana who thronged the national stadium this past Wednesday, there was no middle ground in the Zebras performance, either they were so good or very atrocious. Despite falling behind to Dawit Fekadu’s 6th minute goal, the Zebras had started the game positively, putting their opponents under pressure and looked the most likely to open the scoring.
The good start was however undone by some atrocious defending in the sixth minute as Fekadu managed to squeeze the ball between two Zebras defenders and goalkeeper Mwampule Masule to give his team a lead. The goal, however did not deter the Zebras and they nearly got their equaliser eight minutes later when Lebogang Ditsile set Hendrick Moyo on goal, but the striker, who was rightly adjudged to be offside, only managed to hit the upright. Butler was however forced to rethink his tactics in the 19th minute as Kabelo Seakanyeng had to leave the field with injury and was replaced by Lemponye Tshireletso. Despite this, the Zebras however continued to pile pressure and Ethiopia goalkeeper Tarik Getnet was forced to make a save from Keolopile Molemi’s stinging long ranger. The Ethiopian goal minder was called on to make yet another save in the 34th minute to turn Segolame Boy’s set piece out for a corner after a foul on Moyo.
Despite the positive display, the atrociousness in defence reared a head again in the 40th minute as Tebogo Sosome committed an unnecessary foul just a few yards from the box. From the resultant set piece taken by Baye Gezahegn, Ethiopian Captain Seyoum Tesfaye popped in front of a static Mosha Gaolaolwe and flicked an easy ball over Masule. Botswana however reduced arrears just a minute before recess when Tshireletso wriggled his way into the box and pulled a ball back for fellow substitute Joel Mogorosi to tap in and ensure the Zebras went to recess just a goal down. From recess, it took only a minute for Ethiopia Walia Ibex to reassert their two goal lead as Masule and the Zebras defence yet again failed to deal with a corner, allowing Tesfaye to once again flick the ball into the net.
The Zebras would however pull a goal back in the 65th minute following a foul on Tshireletso. From the resultant set piece which was expertly taken by the self same Tshireletso, it was Mogorosi who rose to net his brace. The Zebras should have however leveled scores in the 41st minute when the Ethiopian defence had been adjudged to have committed a foul in the box. Mogorosi would however go on to undo all his hard work as his attempt from the spot sailed over the bar to hand Ethiopia a win. Despite the loss, Butler was optimistic the result will not affect the Zebras’ performance during their upcoming World Cup Qualifier against Eritrea. “The whole objective of this game was to give the lads who have been shining and doing well for their respective clubs a chance to prove themselves. That is why it won’t be a reflection of the squad which will leave on Monday,” the Zebras gaffer said.
For his part, Ethiopia Walia Ibex coach Yohannes Sahle said he was not happy with his team’s display during the game. “Winning is ok. But I am not happy because we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. We didn’t play the way we trained,” Sahle said. He however said while the team played without some of its professional players for this encounter, the game helped them to see what they have to work on in preparation for their next week World Cup Qualifier against Sao Tome.
Botswana: Masule, Molemi, Sosome, Gaolaolwe, Tapiwa Gadibolae, Lethogonolo Senwelo, Seakanyeng, Boy, Phenyo Molefe, Moyo, Lebogang Ditsile.
Ethiopia: Getnet, Seyoum Tesfaye, Anteneh Tesfaye, Biruk Kalbore, Baye Gezahegn, Dawit Fekadu, Bereket Yishak, Tekalegn Dejene, Ramkel Lok, Mulu-Alem Mesfin, Gatoch Panom.