Botswana’s national team, the Zebras are looking to make history when they host Mali this coming Saturday in Francistown. Botswana has never defeated Mali in the five official matches both teams played and, more so, Mali scored an avalanche of goals in all encounters. The Zebras only managed to score three goals against Mali, while the latter managed to score 16 goals.
Although Botswana has made football history in the past few years, they will need more than a miracle to edge past Mali. Botswana mostly struggles against West African teams and it remains to be seen how they will fare against Mali. This is a match the Botswana national team has to win at all costs if they harbor any ambition of progressing to the group stages of the 2018 World Cup qualification.
What even puts Botswana on the disadvantaged side is the fact that Botswana’s national team mainly boasts of inexperienced youngsters with just a few exceptions. Mali on the other hand has hordes of stars that play in different top leagues around the world especially in France. For the past few years, Mali has taken football development to greater heights and has been doing well in African junior international matches and even world Cup ones. Already the current Under 17 has qualified for the World Cup finals that will be played today (Sunday).
Mali’s proximity to Europe is also an advantage as it is easier for their players to go there even at younger ages. Overall, it will definitely not be an easy task for the Zebras to beat Mali. To make matters worse, Botswana’s second leg will be played after three days away in Bamako and this might take a toll on the players. Already most Malian players are used to playing in tough conditions where most matches are played in just a short space of time. Already, Zebras coach, James Peter Butler has released a preliminary squad that will face Mali. All Botswana players are locally based with the exception of only two players that ply their trade in South Africa.
Preliminary team list for Zebras
Mogakolodi Ngele (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Omaata Kebatho (Vasco Da Gama), Ofentse Nato, Atletico de Kolkata, Kabelo Dambe, Obonye Moswate, Segolame Boy, Joel Mogorosi, Kaone Vanderwesthuizen, Galabgwe Moyana (Township Rollers), Mwampule Masule, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Kabelo Seakanyeng (BDF XI), Goitseone Phoko, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng, Hendrick Moyo (Gaborone United), Tebogo Sosome, Boitumelo Mafoko (Jwaneng Galaxy), Lebogang Ditsele (Gilport Lions), Lemponye Tshireletso, (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Keolopile Moremi (Miscellaneuos), Tapiwa Gadibolae, Letlhogonolo Senwelo, Phenyo Molefhe, Joseph Joseph (Police XI).