Despite all the challenges they are facing, Botswana’s national Under 20 team is determined to do well at the upcoming Metropolitan COSAFA tournament.
Botswana is hosting the tournament and is pitted against Zimbabwe and Swaziland in group A.
Last year, Botswana performed well and for the first time in their history, they qualified for the semi-finals.
This year, they are under pressure to do better because they are hosting the tournament.
Botswana will face Zimbabwe in the opening match at UB Stadium in the afternoon.
Team coach, China Matlhaku, is, however, optimistic that they will do well because they have several players plying their trade in the Premier League. “I am hopeful that we will go far this time, despite enormous challenges in front of us. Several players that play in the Premier League will bring the invaluable experience that will help us overcome the opponents. The team is not prepared in the way I wanted it to be but we will do well,” he said.
Some of the countries that will be taking part in the tournament that starts on Friday are having vigorous preparations and playing a series of international friendly matches while Botswana is not.
“Definitely, we tried to play as many international friendly matches as possible but we could not do more due to circumstances beyond our control. To start with, most of our players are students and were writing their final examinations so it was difficult to bring them together at once. Also most dates on which we could play the friendly matches were during the weekdays while most teams preferred weekends,” Matlhaku said.
He added that they managed to play few competitive matches of which he said helped them a lot.
Meanwhile, the team faces a serious draw back because trusted left back Simisani Mathumo might not make it to the team. He lost his father on Monday and had to rush home.
Mathumo plays for the Premier League defending champions, Township Rollers, and also for the national Under 23.
The Metropolitan COSAFA tournament has played a vital role in unearthing talent in the country. Some such players are Tshephiso Molwantwa, Diphetogo Selolwane, Mogogi Gabonamong, Mompati Thuma, Tiroyamodimo Mohambi and many others.
Those players in the Premier League are Mowampole Masule, Phenyo Molefhe, Mathumo, (Township Rollers), Kenamile Mani, Ndiye Mbikiwe, Lemogang Maswena (Notwane), Lesego Tafa (Miscellaneous), Kabo Rasuping (BDFXI), Ogomoditswe Sitang, Katlego Masole, (Police XI), Tuelo Motaung (Tafic), Kaelo Kgaswane (Gaborone United), Mooketsi Hlabano (Ecco City Green), Thabiso Khunwane, Maikano Maikano (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Motsholetso Sikele (BMC), Thato Bolwelweng (Uniao Flamengo Santos), Onkabetse Kgaogano (Tasc). Others from lower divisions are Tshiamo Monggae (Mokgosi), Tumisang Leburu, Jwaneng Comets, Themba Jaele Mosimanegape Ntwaetsile, (Lobatse Stars), Mompoloki Rangwang (Killer Giants), Tladinyane Kelame (Happy Hearts) and Mosimane Ntwaetsile (Lobatse Stars).