Zebras’ head coach Stanley Tshosane expects to have a full squad today in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa next Sunday (March 24).
Before that trip, the Zebras will have an international friendly game against Malawi at the UB Stadium in Gaborone on Tuesday night. Malawi will be in transit to Namibia for their crucial qualifier.
The Zebras went into camp on Wednesday night but on Friday only 16 players had reported for camp. This excluded six Mochudi Centre Chiefs players and six South African-based stars.
Chiefs were preparing for their CAF Champions League game against TP Mazembe and the players joined the rest of the national team last night. While the rest would be in camp today, Bidvest Wits midfielder Ofentse Nato is only expected to arrive tomorrow.
The Zebras are lying at the bottom of Group A with a single point which they gained in a 1-1 stalemate against South Africa while Ethiopia top the group with four points.
“We’re aware that this is not going to be an easy game for us but we’ll prepare well. Fortunately we were lucky to watch Ethiopia when they played Nigeria in Rustenburg which has given us a hint of what to expect. We’ll continue to watch their DVDs and plan for them well. There is no doubt that Ethiopia are a strong side but we’ll have to be mentally and physically prepared for them,” said Tshosane.
At the time of going to press, the management of the Zebras were still engaged in talks with the Sports Council in order to get a direct flight to Addis Ababa. According to Tshosane that would enable them to adjust to the conditions in Ethiopia well in time.
“Most importantly, we’ll have our first training session on Friday and come back on Monday without stop-overs. This would allow South African based players to return to their clubs in time without hampering our relations,” he said.
Tshosane also cleared the air over the recall of Chiefs’ defender Tshepo ‘Talk-Talk’ Motlhabankwe who has snubbed the call-ups in the past. Motlhabankwe last played for the Zebras in September last year in a 3-3 drawn game against Tanzania. After that it was reported that Motlhabankwe does not want to play for the Zebras because of his differences with the coach.
“I’ve never had a problem with Motlhabankwe. I’ve been in contact with him and sorted out the issue which could have led to him to believe that he was not needed in the squad. His experience in these qualifiers is going to be vital and I’m happy that he realizes that the nation needs him,” said Tshosane.