Botswana is one of the few countries from the Southern African subcontinent region seeking a maiden appearance at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), to be hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
They could not qualify for past editions mainly because of the nature of opponents they were in the same group with.
Although it was tough, Botswana showed spirited fight amongst some of the big guns and thus instilled confidence among Batswana that the team may, in the near future feature in the tournament.
There was hope for 2012 when the groups were mentioned. Botswana was pitted against Tunisia, Malawi and Chad.
Batswana had hopes to at least finish amongst the best seven runners up, provided Tunisia topped the group.
The recent addition of Togo, in the group that comprise of Botswana, seems to have made things even more difficult for the country. Only two winners from the group make it but the question is whether Botswana can pip the two countries to the top or second spot.
It remains a tough challenge and it looks as though Botswana will not make it unless something drastic happens.
The current Tunisia national team might not be that strong compared to the one that walloped the Zebras six years ago, but they seem to be a team on the rise.
Botswana has also proved to be bad travelers and it would be a mammoth task to beat Tunisia in their own backyard.
The same thing applies to Togo.
Botswana might not have played Togo but the West Africans are a very good side with most of their players based overseas, especially in France.
Their top man is Emmanuel Adebayor, who plays in the English Premier league. He might have announced his retirement from international football but that is not a guarantee that he won’t come out of retirement. Many players did that in the past only to rescind their decision.
Adebayor might have announced his retirement mainly because he was frustrated by the Confederations of African Football (CAF)’s suspension of his country from two upcoming editions of AFCON.
Following the intervention of FIFA, CAF had to backtrack and that meant the inclusion of Togo in group 11. What disadvantages Botswana is that they are going to play two matches in a space of a week, against both Tunisia and Chad.
On the first day of July, Botswana will be playing in Tunisia while on the ninth they will be in Gaborone.
Travelling from Tunisia to Gaborone will not be a child’s play.
In the previous qualifiers, there was a time when Botswana played three matches in three weeks and the team’s performance left a lot to be desired, especially in the last game against Ivory Coast, where they lost 4-0.
After Tunisia, they will be playing against Chad, a team Botswana knows next to nothing about, and that on its own can be dangerous.
The inclusion of Togo in Botswana’s group meant that qualifications have to start earlier than expected and Botswana was yet to start preparations. This is the time the country should have long started preparations and the technical staff, together with the administration, have to start preparations as a matter of urgency.
All things considered, the Zebras have an even higher mountain to climb if the country is to qualify for AFCON 2012.