The national Under-23 coach, Daniel ‘Chicco’ Nare, believes that his young troops have what it takes to perform well in the ongoing 2012 Olympic qualifiers.
The Young Zebras leave the country tomorrow (Monday) for a daunting task against Egypt in Cairo on Friday night in their effort to book a place at the London Games.
Despite Egypt being among Africa’s football powerhouses, Nare said that Botswana football has come of age hence his confidence that the team can bring a positive result.
The Young Zebras cruised to this stage after they laboured to a 2-1 aggregate win over Swaziland, so the Young Pharaohs are expected to give the local lads a tough time.
Nare said that the preparations for the Egypt game have gone well despite the disruption brought by rain in Gaborone earlier in the week. The Young Zebras were held to a 2-2 draw by Lesotho in Molepolole on Wednesday as part of their preparations for the encounter in North Africa.
Before they depart tomorrow morning, the Young Zebras will have a final test against neighbouring South Africa at the Lobatse Sports Complex this afternoon (1530hrs).
Nare, who leads the team without an assistant, told Sunday Standard that South Africa will be a perfect match.
“It is good to play such a high-profile friendly game before we head to Egypt. The friendly will allow us to gauge ourselves and see where we’re lacking. The Egyptians are technically sound and we believe that South Africa are a close match to them. We appreciate that South Africa has seen it fit to come play us because the last time we played, the score was not a true reflection of the game.”
The fact that South Africa will be bringing a full strength squad has excited Nare.
He further pointed out that, against the South Africans this afternoon, they are going to deploy the same tactics they will use in Egypt.
Nare faces Amaglug-glug today without the services of three key players who will be involved in the Coca-Cola Cup quarterfinal at the Molepolole Sports Complex.
These are goalkeeper Michael Pepukani, Kabo Rasuping (both BDF XI) and Galabgwe Moyana (Mochudi Centre Chiefs).
“I would have liked to have them but there is nothing we can do. I think those available have what it takes to face South Africa,” he said.
As he takes his troops to North Africa, Nare will be without his talisman Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele from Uniao Flamengo Santos. The youngster has been excluded from the trip because of school commitments.
“We have been informed that he (Ngele) is behind schedule at school and taking him to Egypt for a period of a week will do his studies no good,” Nare added.
In Ngele’s place, Township Rollers’ striker Phenyo Molefhe has been roped in and the Under-23 gaffer thinks the youngster will be up to the challenge. Molefhe is one of the promising goalscorers in the country and his call-up has long been overdue.
As has been the case in the past, Nare extended a call-up to Extension Gunners winger Kgololo Leteane, but the youngster has not responded and will not be travelling.
Meanwhile, South African coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba has named a strong squad for the Botswana friendly.
Amaglug-glug are preparing for the Olympic qualifier against Libya at the Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton though the fixture remains in the balance as the Libyans have not confirmed that they will honour it.
The squad includes familiar names in Mandla Masango (Kaizer Chiefs), George Maluleka (Ajax Cape Town), Bongani Ndulula (Orlando Pirates) and Siyanda Xulu (Mamelodi Sundowns).
Also in the team is Holland-based midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo of Feyenoord.
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has called on the community of Lobatse and neighbouring places to go and give the Young Zebras their support.
“We understand that there will be a crucial Coca-Cola Cup game (Chiefs and BDF XI) in Molepolole but it is important that these youngsters get the necessary support on their road to the 2012 Olympics,” said BFA Communications Manager, Phakamile Kraai, on Friday morning.