When the Botswana National Under-17 football team got mutilated by their hyper-charged South African counterparts two weeks ago in a quest for a place at the CAF Under-17 championships, many probably did not know that the Botswana side has scored only two goals in the championships proper since the competition’s inauguration in 1995.
Sunday Standard Sport can reveal that the team has scored only two goals since 1995. Tsetsebjwe-born Tasc marksman, Bashin Mashakola in the inaugural tournament in Mali, netted the first of the two strikes. The 1995 generation, captained by the then Notwane player, Desmond Hambira, tried in vain to stand their ground as their group comprised of powerhouses Nigeria, Guinea and Sudan.
The team received a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Nigeria, a game which Township Rollers goalkeeper, Lesego Moeng, will want to forget, as he was erratic on the day. This was followed by a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Mali.
In their last group game, they went down to a narrow 1-2 defeat to Sudan, who were also searching for their first win of the tournament. Other players who made that team were Seabo Gabanakgosi, Masego Nchingane, Dereck Malunga, Tshepiso Molwantwa, Richard Modirelabangwe, Noah Kareng, Ross Motswagae, Jabu Rankwe and Anthony Matengu. That inaugural event was won by Ghana, who defeated Nigeria 3-1 in the finals.
In 1997, the Batswana gods would smile on Botswana’s football as the country was mandated to organize the event and Gaborone’s National stadium was the venue. Many will remember with sadness the Botswana side captained by current BDF XI striker Mpho Mabogo.
The other players of note in that team were BMC’s TRX Mohambi, Edwin Disang, Shimane Kgope (later Ntshweu), Jackson Molatodi (later Legodi), Mogogi Gabonamong, Madeluka Tema, the late Stoney “BR” Ogotseng (May his soul rest in peace) to mention but a few.
Botswana was pitted against Egypt, Coite de Vouire and Mali in what was dubbed the group of death. Egypt handed the side a 2-0 hiding before Coite de Voire went beserk, firing seven goals past the Botswana net minder without reply. In the last game, Disang showed the world what a classy player he was. Botswana lost 1-2 to Mali via a Kgope tap-in.
It must be noted that the Egyptian team comprised of current big stars, among them, dazzling Mido. Ghana had current Chelsea’s phenomenal midfielder Michael Essien.
Botswana was not a fixture at the 1999, 2001 and 2003 championships, which were won by Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, respectively. In the 1999 event held in Guinea, Ghana beat Burkina Faso 3-1 in the finals. Seychelles hosted the 2001 edition, which was won by Nigeria, who beat Mali 3-0 in the finals. Swaziland organized the 2003 event and the indomitable cubs of Cameroon beat Sierra Leone 1-0 in the finals.
In 2005, Botswana was beaten 2-1 by Lesotho in the preliminary round of the championships, getting their second goal in the championships.
The current Botswana side has a chance of getting the elusive third goal if they can overturn a 0-6 deficit when they host their nemesis, South Africa, in the return leg in a fortnight.