Sunday, September 24, 2023

Zebras’ dreams of CHAN debut up in the air

The Zebras will have an Indian Ocean to cross, both literally and figuratively, if they are to win the second leg of their ultimate African Nations Championship cup (CHAN) finals qualifying game against Madagascar.

This coming weekend, the Zebras will be visitors at the Stade Kianja Barea Mahamasina, Antananarivo in the island of Madagascar for a do or die battle against the Barea. Whoever wins the two-legged tie qualifies to make a debut at the CHAN finals next year.

For Botswana, they cross the Indian Ocean with all to do after coming second best here at home. Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote’s youthful Zebras lost 0-1 to Madagascar at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium this past Saturday.

In the game, Botswana trailed after conceding within 18 minutes from the commencement of the game. The goal, which separated the two sides at the end of the first 90 minutes came courtesy of Razanakoto Tsilavina.

The loss leaves the coach and his charges in a precarious position. If they fail to qualify, this will be a missed chance for him and the boys to qualify for the CHAN finals when it all looked easier. It will also be a missed opportunity to etch their names in the history books of Botswana football.

Now as they face a trip away, Mpote will be fully aware he has to get his boys psychologically ready. Having travelled the continent, he will be aware of the potential psychological test his boys will have to surmount to get a win away.

A week ago when asked of his team’s mental preparedness for the challenges and rigours of playing away in the continent, Mpote expressed no fear. “I have travelled Africa and I believe I have some level of expertise when it comes to psychological warfare played in the continent,” the coach said.

Now, he and the boys will be put to the test. Working in his favour may however be the fact that he has had the boys for a while now. This will give him a better understanding of what he needs to get them psyched for the next encounter.


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