Tough times lie ahead for the Botswana national Under 17 team ahead of the qualifications for the 2015 Africa Championships. It looks highly unlikely that the team will make an impact at the qualifiers and the road ahead will be very tough for them if they hope to make a mark. Most likely, the national U-17 will falter before they make it to the 2015 Africa Championships, especially considering their preparations.
The U-17 has already lost two friendly matches against South Africa, conceding six goals and not even scoring a single goal in the process. In the first practice match, the Botswana U-17 side lost by two goals. They were once again walloped on Sunday when the South Africans ran riot, walloping them 4-0. The repeated losses against South Africa might just be a tip off the iceberg because the team is hardly prepared for their encounter with Zambia in two weeks time. The Telegraph Sports is informed that the team had only been training together for a week before the South African friendly. This means the team would have been together for three weeks before their official match against Zambia. Zambia is a nation that is renowned for taking football development seriously and dominating regional football and they will easily overcome an ill prepared Botswana U-17 side.
In an interview, U-17 coach Odirile ‘China’ Matlhaku said they will work hard to qualify despite the short time they had before Zambian match.
“I would have loved to spend more time with the boys before the match against Zambia, but we have to work hard despite the many challenges we face. I am happy because we managed to play an international friendly before our game against Zambia. This has given my players a bit of exposure and they have developed some confidence. The match against South Africa also helped me identify areas that we need to work on and I am hopeful that we would have rectified them by the time we play Zambia,” he said.
However, Matlhaku lamented the fact that the schools of excellence, which have previously aided their preparations, did not take place. He said the current team is meeting in camp for the first time, unlike in the past when they would have met at the schools of excellence.
“Our work was cut short in the past because players knew other from the regular under 15 camps at the schools of excellence. By the time they were selected for Under 17 duty you could see that they could easily merge because they were well learned in many areas of the game,” he said.
Matlhaku said they lost their two friendlies against South Africa because their opponents have been together for a long time and have also played many international friendly matches. The 2015 African Championships will be held in Niger and Botswana will be making their fourth appearance. The previous Under 17 team qualified for Morocco after eliminating the likes of Malawi, Rwanda and Algeria. It now remains to be seen whether the current team will emulate their predecessors or if they will fall on the first hurdle. Botswana qualified for the Under 17 championships in 1995 and 1997.