After Briton, James Peter Butler was appointed Zebras coach earlier in the year, Botswana Football Association President, Tebogo Sebego told a press conference that their priority is not to qualify for 2015 Afcon but to build a team for the future.
He added that if the Zebras qualified it would be a bonus.
The Zebras would be placed in a very strong group of which some pundits dubbed the group of death. Botswana is pitted against Tunisia, Senegal and Egypt.
However what put Butler under immense pressure is the fact that when the Zebras qualified for 2012 Afcon they were also placed in a very strong group that had Tunisia and Togo, Malawi and Chad.
Many people had expected Tunisia and Togo to easily sail through but it was not to be as Butler’s predecessor, Stanley Tshosane shocked the African continent with a team comprising mainly local players. The Zebras stunned Tunisia with wins away and at home, and Africa took notice.
Some Batswana nevertheless expect Butler to take the team to Morocco next year. However, the road to Morocco is proving to be a rocky one with the team losing their opening two matches against Tunisia away and Senegal at home. Tunisia won 2-1 while Senegal 2-0.
On Friday the Zebras will be up against seven-time African champions Egypt at the National Stadium in Gaborone in a match that will really determine whether they stand a chance of qualifying. The match could even decide the future of Zebras coach, Butler. The tie looks to be much more important for the Egyptians than Zebras because apparently the riot act has already been read to Egyptian coach, Shawky Gharib. Reports from Egypt suggest that if they lose or draw against the Zebras he will be shown the door.
Egypt has failed to qualify for the past Afcon in 2012 and 2013. This has not gone down well with the soccer mad supporters because before 2012 Egypt won the previous three Afcon trophies consecutively.
So it is a do or die affair for the record winners, an encounter that will be closely watched by both Senegal and Tunisia that have won their two opening encounters. Both teams have however played twice in the Afcon qualifications in 2007. In Egypt the hosts won by a solitary goal despite the gallant effort from Botswana.
In Gaborone Botswana nearly produced a shock result over the team that was then the defending champions but they could only settle for a draw. Back then Botswana was also under the tutelage of another Briton, Colywen Rowe.
Egypt have already named their strong squad for Zebras encounter. The squad definitely shows that the Pharoahs are taking the game very seriously and even consist of those who are based outside Egypt.
Most Egyptian players play at home and rarely play outside but the few who that play outside have made it into Gharib’s squad. The notable player in the team is Mohammed Salah who plays for English Premier League giants, Chelsea.
His strength is his mobility when going forward. Salah could prove a sharp thorn in the Zebras flesh. Another famous face is that of veteran Hossam ElSayed Ghaley who plays for local giants, Al Ahly.
On the other hand, the Zebras have released a preliminary squad that will be finalized early in the week.
Currently only local players have turned for camp while foreign based ones will join after weekend matches. Meanwhile Mogogi Gabonamong will not play against Egypt because of a one mach suspension.
Full Egyptian squad
ÔÇóAhmed El-Shenawy (Zamalek)
ÔÇóSherif Ekramy (Al Ahly)
ÔÇóAmir Abdel-Hamid (Wadi Degla)
ÔÇóMohamed Abdel-Shafy (Al-Ahli Jeddah)
ÔÇóSabry Rahil (Al Ahly)
ÔÇóSaad Samir (Al Ahly)
ÔÇóShawky El-Said, (Ismaily)
ÔÇóAli Gabr (Zamalek)
ÔÇóMohamed Naguib (Al Ahly)
ÔÇóAhmed Elmohamady (Hull City)
ÔÇóHazem Emam (Zamalek)
ÔÇóHossam Ghaly (Al Ahly)
Saleh Gomaa (CD Nacional)
ÔÇóIbrahim Abdel-Khalek (Smouha)
ÔÇóAhmed Fathi (Umm Salal)
ÔÇóAyman Hefny (Zamalek)
ÔÇóIbrahim Salah (Zamalek)
ÔÇóWalid Soliman (Al Ahly)
ÔÇóAhmed Hamoudi (FC Basel)
ÔÇóMohamed El-Nenny (FC Basel)
ÔÇóAmr El-Sulaya (Ismaily)
ÔÇóHani El-Egeizy (Smouha)
ÔÇóAmr Gamal (Al Ahly)
ÔÇóKhaled Kamar (Zamalek)
ÔÇóMohamed Salah (Chelsea)