Botswana’s national Under 23 ladies team has fallen short of their ambition of a podium finish at the just ended Africa National Championships.
The local girls finished fourth, one position off the medal table during the tournament, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, last week.
With just four teams standing between them and a spot at next year’s FIVB Women U23 World Championship that is billed for Slovenia at stake for the first two finishers, the local girls failed when it mattered most.
Led by Coach Isaac Thengelani and Dopp Popo, Botswana mustered only one win out of possible 4 and lost the other three games they played.
Botswana started the games on a bad footing losing their opening game 3 ÔÇô 0 to hosts, Kenya.
Their dreams were however resuscitated in the second game as they then went on to beat Senegal 3 ÔÇô 2.
It was however as good as it got for the local girls as they then lost their two remaining matches to Rwanda and Egypt by an identical 3 ÔÇô 0 scoreline.
Commenting on the team’s performance, Coach Thengelani attributed it to poor preparations and lack of match practice prior to the championships.
“As a team we had only trained for 10 days but we had to play against teams who were well prepared and had been on camp for 3 months out of Africa. We did not even have any friendly games or anything of that sort ahead of the games,” Thengelani explained.
Despite winning only a single match, Thengelani is happy with the showing of his young charges.
“The fact that we managed to grab a win is a good reflection of the potential and capability we have as a country,” he said.
“We played well but the only thing we were lacking was experience and match fitness. Players like Thato Solomon who was my outside hitter, Kebabonye Phofedi who was crowned the best receiver title, as well Jestinah Moyo and Caroline Rodger brought depth and stability in the team and I was happy with their performance,” added Thengelani.
Thengelani, who was also making his debut as a national team coach said as a team, the technical team, together with players, they had learnt valuable lessons from their outing.
“It was my first stint as a national team coach and I learnt a lot from the experience. I had an opportunity to engage with other coaches who have been mentoring national teams for many years and they were eager to impart necessary skills to me, something which I believe will benefit me and my player in future,” Thengelani concluded.
Meanwhile, Egypt retained the title they scooped in 2014, finishing first ahead of Kenya and Rwanda, who got silver and bronze respectively. Egypt will now represent Africa at the FIVB women under 23 world championships scheduled for Slovenia next year.