Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Zebras “may” get boardroom victory

…. after being battered 4-0 at Stade Olympique, are they ready to take on Egypt, the African Champions in October?

The embattled Botswana Senior national football team, the Zebras, may smile again after they were crushed 4-0 by the “Sparrows” of Mauritania, in a fully packed Stade Olymique, in Nouakchott last week. This might be, if the protest lodged with CAF, that Mauritania used ineligible players, gets a sympathetic hearing.

The Zebras were hammered by a lowly ranked, but superb, Mauritania side, leaving the Zebras hopeless for a place at the African Nations Cup in Ghana next year.

Even the Botswana coach, Colwyn Rowe, admitted that the Mauritania side that beat his team was superb on the day.

“The guys were quicker, stronger and bigger than us and it is hard to believe that they are ranked 166th in the world by FIFA,” said Rowe.
The Briton must have forgotten that rankings count for nothing in football matches. They purely depend on the number of games that a nation plays.

Botswana’s complaint to CAF stems from the suspicion that Mauritania might have used players not from the Islamic state.

Head of the Botswana delegation, Tshepho Mphoeng, said that she raised a complaint with the match commissioner, Baamena Ali from Algeria, about nine passports which were issued to the players on August 23 this year.

“The passports had some pages missing, and one had a Zimbabwean entry stamp dated August 2003,” said Mphoeng.

Clearly, it is not logical to have a 2003 stamp on a passport issued two weeks ago.

Mphoeng said they were tipped that some of these nine players were from France where they play their football and could have been drafted into the Mauritanian team unscrupulously.

“We will take the matter up with CAF after communicating with the Botswana Football Association,” she said.

The Zebras seem not to have rectified their profligacy of failing to deal with set pieces. This was also their Achilles heel in their quest for an appearance at the African Nations Cup in Egypt.
All the four goals by the “Sparrows” were scored from free kicks in the first half, with three being scored in a space of 22 minutes, while the third came after the defenders failed to deal with a cross from the right flank. The first was a well-taken strike by Sidou Mbodje. Kara Moko Nousa got the second after a mix-up in the Zebras defence. The composed player completed his brace by bagging the third from a free kick.

Uniao Flamingo Santos defender, Khumo “Shoes” Motlhabane, had his hands full as he was assigned a tricky customer. The athletic Mauritanian winger mesmerized the Serowe born player all day.
The Zebras rearguard could not deal with nimble footed Yon Langlais who netted the final goal of the match after a brilliant solo effort.

2005/2006 Mascom Premier League Golden boot winner, Malepa “Chippa” Bolelang, seemed to have left his scoring boots at Lekidi Football Centre as he missed three inviting chances after coming on for Notwane’s new recruit, Tshepiso “Sox” Molwantwa.
Township Rollers’ wonder kid, Joel “16 Valves” Mogorosi, hit the woodwork. From the look of things, the Zebras were found wanting in that holding role position in the middle of the park. Their strike-force lacked direction.

The team hosts the group’s toughest team, the “Pharaohs” of Egypt, the reigning African Champions, in Gaborone in October.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.