No Botswana team has ever won the annual Council for Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Under 20 tournament; and they rarely progress to the semi-finals.
The tournament is often dominated by South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and even Malawi.
This year, starting from Monday, the team will be looking forward to breaking that jinx when they take on Zimbabwe. Botswana is always eliminated in the preliminary stages and if they do not pull up their socks, they will be well on their way out again.
Botswana has been drawn in group C, comprising of Zimbabwe and Lesotho. The tricky part about the tournament is that only group winners qualify to the semi-finals. This then means Botswana has to win the two matches at all costs.
Bad news for Botswana, however, is that the team will be missing three key players due to club commitments and injury.
Gaborone United’s enterprising midfielder, Ntesang Simanyana, long got injured at his club. It had been hoped that he would recover on time and would make it, but it has since turned the other way round.
Simanyana has for sometime been the engine of the team since the time when he was in the under 15.
BDF XI’s hard tackling defender, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng, also could not make it due to club commitments. Definitely he has left a huge void at the back and whoever is going to play in his place will have to re-double his efforts.
Township Rollers reliable goalkeeper, Dambe’s last minute withdrawal has worsened the team’s last line of defence.
The towering goalkeeper has already made his presence felt at Rollers and won the hearts of many local supporters. There are reports that he withdrew because of pressure from Rollers since they had already released two players.
Rollers are the current log leaders and his release would somehow affect the team. Rollers management refused to comment on the matter. The Managing Director of the team, Somerset Gobuiwang, just told Sunday Standard that his team released two players for the Under 20 commitment. Dambe’s place will be taken by BDF second choice goalkeeper, Basimanebotlhe Moilwa.
Moilwa was at one stage the first choice but Dambe ended up toppling him. Teams that are hard hit by the COSAFA tournament are Uniao Flamengo Santos and Notwane. Santos would be minus four players for their next two matches and are in a precarious position.
The notable player for Santos who will be with the under 20 is Mogakolodi Ngele, who has been a revelation at the club for some time now and his absence is going to be obviously clear. Ngele always has a hand in the goals that his team convert.
Notwane, on the other hand, are a sad story because they are at the bottom of the league and their three missing players play crucial roles.
The big loss for the team is Galabgwe Moyana, who is proving to be an upcoming free-kick and crosses specialist. He has scored several free kicks and his crosses are not easy to deal with.
Full team list
Moilwa (BDF XI), Motshegetse Sikele (BMC) Maikano Maikano (Moshupa Cloud Busters), Ngele, Bakang Moeng, Thato Bolwelweng, Pako Lekgari (Santos), Kaelo Kgaswane (Gaborone United), Isaac Paeye, Bogosi Mfila (Miscellenious), Mosimanegape Reetsang (Mogoditshane Fighters), Odirile Kgaodi, Moyana, Kenamile Mani (Notwane), Gofaone Molapi (Police XI), Phenyo Molefhe, Aubrey Kebonnetse (Township Rollers) and Uyapo Seleka.