After a scary affair in Kenya for the African Championships qualifiers, Botswana’s national under 23 soccer team will face young Chipolopolo of Zambia next month. Botswana will start at home before completing the two legged affair in Zambia after a week on May 29.
Botswana has never had it easy against Zambia in both the junior and senior international matches. Zambia, in most cases, always defeat Botswana and normally also make their presence felt in major international tournaments. The only memorable victory for Botswana was in 1995 when Botswana qualified for the Under 17 tournament that was held in Mali. Zambia had beaten the young Zebras 6-0 in their own backyard but Botswana won 1-0 at home. It later emerged that had Zambia used over aged players in the encounter which resulted in their suspension.
It will not be easy for Botswana to defeat Zambia but if they can go into the match with the same mentality they had against Kenya, then it is probable that the young Zebras will not make it to the next round. Zambia has several high profile players in their elite league and even in the South Africa Premier League. Botswana last week convincingly defeated Kenya 3-0 at home and went on to lose 4-1 in Kenya. This means the overall score is 4-4 and fortunately Botswana managed to progress to the next round against Zambia via an away goal rule.
Under 23 coach, Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul is quoted in Kenyan newspapers saying he did not expect the Kenyans to stage such a dramatic comeback. The Kenyan team staged a massive comeback and nearly upset the young Zebras but Omaata Kebatho’s goal spoiled the day for Kenya. The victor between Botswana and Zambia will face Ivory Coast and the winner will automatically qualify for the African Championships. The top three winners at the championships will make it to Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil for the Olympics next year.