Friday, April 16, 2021

Under 23?s dream take a knock

Multitudes of Batswana were left disappointed after the Under 23 were defeated 2-0 by South Africa in All Africa Games (AAG) qualifying match on Sunday. Many Batswana travelled all the way to Potchefstroom town, which is about 400 kilometres from Gaborone expecting nothing than a victory.

Batswana had hopes because prior to the game Botswana put their name in World map by defeating African powerhouses such as Angola and Tunisia in both AAG and Olympic games respectively. With such victories Botswana stood a good chance to defeat South Africa side that is rated below both Tunisia and Angola. Most of Angolan and Tunisian players are playing abroad compared to South Africa and for that matter, Angola side is groomed for 2010 Africa Cup of Nations which they will be hosting.

Even South Africa came to the game expecting a tough resistance but it was not to be as South Africa dominated from the first whistle to the end. Although Botswana defence produced one of their splendid performances but basic errors let them down which South Africa capitalised on.

First goal came after a quick short corner and caught the defence napping and Cape Town Santos striker, Erwin Isaacs just tapped in. The second goal also came after the Botswana defence thought the Zimbabwean referee; Kenas Marange would punish Isaacs who fouled Tumisang Sekanonyane. Most of the defenders thought he would blew the whistle but paved play on and Orlando Pirates speedy striker Lebogang Mokoena capitalised on that in the 67 minutes.

The tactics used by the coach also left a lot to be desired. The defensive system they were playing allowed the South African to approach the 18th area with ease. But when Botswana knocked the ball around with short passes South Africa were caught napping but the technical staff just resorted to defensive approach.

Most players in the game did not produce the spark they are renown for. Dirang Moloi who is an anchorman in the midfield did not do his usual magic of encroaching the South African midfield. Thabo Mbole also had a problem in containing Sibusiso Radebhe. Kaone Molefhe was the one who produced sparks when he was introduced towards the end. He gave Bloemfontein Celtic defender, James Meridian a tough time. Nevertheless credit must go to youthful goalkeeper, Itumeleng Selepa. Selepa who stood in for injured Noah Maposa played like a seasoned goalkeeper and thwarted many dangerous balls. It would not be surprising if one of South African sides express interest in him. As usual Mmusa Ohilwe played to his utmost best and was the one who made sure that Mokoena and Isaacs do not produce their usual magic at their respective teams.

The return leg will be played in two weeks time and Botswana has to score at least three goals, provided South Africa does not score, a mammoth task indeed.


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