The senior national team, the Zebras, face a daunting task of progressing to the next round of the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN). This follows a one all draw with Zambia in Molepolole on Saturday.
The results mean the Zebras have to win the second leg this coming weekend in Zambia which will not be easy at all.
The Zambian national soccer team rarely loses at home and the Zebras would need more than divine intervention to pull a surprise victory. Zambians are renowned for their passion for the national team and always fill the stadium to the rafters and cheer to the very last minute.
Even Zebras coach, Stanley Tshosane admitted after the match that they will have to triple their efforts if they are to win in Zambia. He said the Zebras should have won the Saturday match because they dictated it for the most part but could not bury most chances that came their way.
“Before the match we had thoroughly studied Zambia so well and knew their strengths and weaknesses and they could not play their normal game. It was a good game for us and, unfortunately, we could not utilize the chances that we created but we have to go back to the drawing boards and prepare for the second leg,” he said.
Botswana also could not utilize the advantage that was availed to them in the mid second half following the sending off of a Zambian player, Alex Ngoga. Ngoga was sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling Bonolo Phuduhudu.
Zambia ended up taking the lead via Festus Mbewe despite being one man down. Mbewe interceptecd a poor pass from Zebras old horse, Mompati Thuma, who seems not to be himself of late. Thuma was not under any pressure and ended up gifting Mbewe who was nearby to slot home.
In the just ended COSAFA tournament, Thuma also conceded an unnecessary penalty that ended up helping Lesotho to draw with Botswana.
Botswana did not despair after trailing by a goal against Zambia because they equalized 12 minutes from time via ever shining Lemponye Tshireletso.
Tshireletso slotted from a freekick after a foul from Tebogo Sembowa. He did not give the Zambian defence a chance as he laid a low and hard ball that also left Zambian goalie, Danny Munyau, sprawling on the turf.
Tshireletso is slowly proving himself to be a free kick specialist with variation because he scored another beautiful free kick in the last Zebras match against Kenya during the COSAFA Castle Cup two weeks ago.
On the other hand, unfamiliar faces in the Zebras colours did well during the match and it was like they have been in the team for a long time. The trio of Phuduhudu, Topo Piet and Gift Moyo can give coach Tshosane a variety of options in the upcoming matches. Phuduhudu started the match but had to be pulled out due to injury while Moyo and Piet, who both play for Selibe Phikwe based side, were introduced in the second half and did well to neutralise the physical Zambians.
Coach Tshosane was happy with their performance and said that is the reason he is always keeping them in the team.
The Zebras will play the second leg on Saturday at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. The winner will face either Zimbabwe or Mauritius and the eventual winners will qualify for the tournament that will be held in South Africa.