Although the Zebras have been put in a rather strong group of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) that is even considered ‘a group of death’, some local pundits are optimistic that Botswana can cause upsets and qualify beyond the group stages.
They believe that Botswana should not lose focus and should use their impressive run in the qualifiers of the tournament as a yard stick.
Botswana has been drawn in group D with Ghana, Guinea and Mali. Botswana has struggled in the past against West African nations that are physically stronger and, with three of them in the same group, it looks Botswana is headed for a tougher task.
Soccer pundit Fobby Radipotsane told Telegraph Sports that Botswana will not be under pressure compared to their opponents and, as such, it might work well for them.
“Botswana will be the underdogs but not under pressure and, as such, it is a motivation on its own for the Zebras players. The countries that we are competing against have been at AFCON before and did well and they are under tremendous pressure to surpass their past records. We will just be enjoying our maiden qualification and might even hit them where it hurts the most,” he said.
Radipotsane added that when the 2012 AFCON qualifications started, no-body gave Botswana a chance but we surprised the world and finished on top of the group that had the likes of Tunisia and Togo.
He said it could happen during the tournament.
“Playing at an AFCON tournament is like playing in the Coca-Cola tournament in Botswana. If you recall well small teams always give the big ones a shock of their lives and Botswana could do the same,” he said. Regarding the fact that Botswana always struggles against West African nations, he said Botswana should just utilise the little time available to physically prepare for the tournament.
He said since the coach has a clear picture of the tournament, Botswana should play as many friendly matches against West African nations as possible.
On his part, BMC coach, Daniel Nare also stressed that it will not be easy for the Zebras at the tournament.
“When I was the coach of the Under 23, I always advocated against playing against West African countries because a tournament like AFCON is always dominated by those countries. Also that would automatically prepare the players because they are a feeder team to the senior one,” he said.
Nare said that Ghana is the hot favourites from the group and might give Botswana a tough time, but added that others will be equally tough. He advised that Botswana should make sure at least they steal points from them.
Nare added that what disadvantages Botswana the most is the fact that all countries in the group have many players in big leagues around the world, while Botswana has only a few in neighbouring South Africa where a majority of them are not even regulars.
Zebras coach, Stan Tshosane, was quoted in some foreign media saying that the Zebras are capable of doing well if they thoroughly prepare before the tournament.