Sunday, December 5, 2021

Strong Zebras on the cards

Many soccer loving people are filled with sadness following the elimination of the senior national team from the qualifications of both the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup.

Already many Batswana are saying many things and point fingers at certain individuals for the team’s failure.
But accusations will not take the country anywhere but we should just pick up the pieces and continue to look forward and prepare for upcoming competitions.

This then means the country has to look at the youth teams, like the Under 20 and 23. Looking at the performance of the two teams, Botswana can have a very strong team in the future. Both the under 20 and 23s made history by reaching the late stages of tournaments, more than any other junior team ever did.

In the process, they gained invaluable experience and might find it easy to compete in fierce competitions compared to their seniors most of whose players only ventured in big matches when they were already old.

The Under 23s were knocked out in the last hurdle for All Africa Games and that was a tremendous achievement for Botswana. The team also qualified for the group stages of the Olympics which was also historic for Botswana. It was unbelievable for many Batswana to see their team defeating big nations like Tunisia, Morocco, Guinea and managing to play to a goalless draw against Cameroon.

The under 20s also bowed out in the last stages of the African Youth championships to be held in Rwanda next year. Both teams were knocked out by Botswana’s hoodoo team, South Africa.
If all the channels are followed and more resources are put in place, Botswana is going to be tough opponents and will be one of the best in Southern African.

During the Olympics campaign and the Under 20 Youth Championships, most of the countries were from East, West and North Africa and the lads put up commendable performances.

The Botswana Football Association technical officer, Keatlholetswe, believes that Botswana might have a formidable team in the future. He said the fact that the youth teams did better is an indicator that Botswana might have even a better team.
“It is a factor that youth teams determine the future of the national teams. So far, both our Under 20 and 23s did extremely well because they reached stages their predecessors never did and that gives us hope. If you also look at most of the Under 20 players, they are already in the Premier League, something that was uncommon in the past. Most of the players in the senior national team broke into higher football when they were already old,” he said.

Keatlholetswe said many Batswana might have had higher expectations of the previous team, but at the end of the day reality showed that the country still has a long way to go. He added that in some countries once the senior team faces set backs, development of football is intensified and that should be the case in Botswana. He added that other countries always have long term plans compared to Botswana that in most cases have short term plans.

“If you look at other countries like England they are currently targeting the 2018 World Cup, meaning that they are targeting certain age groups that would be ready by then. And if you talk of 2018 you are talking about eight years to come,” he said.

Meanwhile information reaching Sunday Standard is that certain prominent players might have bid the Zebras farewell, with the Mozambique game as their last.

Names that keep on cropping up are that of Mompati ‘Legs of steel’ Thuma, goalkeeper Modiri Marumo, Diphetogo Selolwane, Nelson Gabolwelwe and Tshepho Motlhabankwe.
The surprise inclusion in the names is Thuma and Marumo.

Thuma might be 28 years old, but he can still play for a few more years to come. He is one of the few players who are consistent and who rarely misses the game.

Goalkeepers normally grow with age, and still in his mid-thirties, Marumo can play for up to four or five years more. He also does not have a serious challenger and he might create a void if he leaves. His reserve, Noah Maposa, still lacks high competitive mentality and it might take a bit of time for him to be a complete goalkeeper.

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