Monday, September 28, 2020

Zebras on the right track?

Botswana?s soccer national team, affectionately called the Zebras seem to be on the right track for their maiden Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifications following their 1-0 victory over Burundi on Sunday. The only goal of the game was scored deep into the second half by Thato Siska much to the delight of Batswana who came in their droves. Although many spectators left the stadium disappointed with the team?s performance, but what mattered the most was the maximum points which the team got. The Zebras are now breathing heavily behind reigning African champions, Egypt.

Botswana has now accumulated four points from three outings three lesser than Egypt. Zebras have now a mammoth task because they have to play two big games away. The most difficult one will be against Egypt because they have a very strong record at home. In addition the Egyptians attend games in huge numbers and Botswana might struggle with stage fright. Nevertheless there are always shocks around the world and Zebras might pull one. In the first leg between the two teams Zebras played with all their hearts out and snatched a draw something that surprised the Egyptians. Zebras have to also visit Burundi, the country that is still grappling with long civil war. By the look of things Burundi have the potential to win at home and Zebras have to do all what they can to get points.

In the Sunday game Zebras played a more defensive game, something that did not go well with the multitudes of supporters who came in their numbers. The team also lacked aggression and mobility it is renowned for in the midfield and that gave Burundi a room to maneuver. The striking partner of Diphetogo Selolwane and new kid on the block, Jerome Ramatlhakwane was lonely most of the time and Selolwane had to drop back trying to collect the balls.

The complexion of the game changed after the introduction of goal scorer Siska and skilful pacey, Joel Mogorosi who plays his professional football in Cyprus. The moment Mogorosi came in his presence was felt as he opened up Burundi defense. His torrent attacks eventually paid off after he was brought near the box. Selolwane too the free kick and Siska out jumped towering Burundian defenders and beat goalie Aime Kitenge to head home. After the goal Burundi tried to push forward but the ever no nonsense and intact Zebras defense led by the trio of Mompati Thuma, Ndiapo Letsholathebe and Ernest Amos thwarted all the threatening moves.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.