Botswana senior women’s football team start their 2020 COSAFA campaign tomorrow (Saturday) with a tricky midday match against Tanzania.
The Mares will need to be at their best against a Tanzanian side who go into the Group C encounter full of confidence following their surprise 1-0 triumph over Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
With only one country from the three-team group guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, Saturday’s fixture – a 12:30 kickoff at Port Elizabeth’s Wolfson Stadium – is a must win for Botswana.
Although the Mares have not played an international game in over a year – the ladies last outing was a 2-0 loss to Zambia in an Olympic Qualifier back on 8 October 2019 – Coach Gaolethoo Nkutlwisang was in a confident mood when she spoke to Voice Sport this week.
Having studied the Tanzania vs Zimbabwe game in minute detail, Nkutlwisang admitted she was impressed with the Twiga Stars set-up.
“They are a youthful team and extremely fit. It is going to be a tough game; we should be prepared to run for the full 90 minutes,” said the coach, further praising the East African nation’s ‘strong midfield’.
However, the wily tactician said she identified a number of weaknesses in Tanzania’s style of play that Botswana can exploit.
“They do not play combination play but depend on the individual brilliance of four of their players. The good thing is I watched them with the girls on television, we analysed the match and we know what to expect. We have been training twice a day and my player are ready!” exclaimed Nkutlwisang, adding she has no injury worries and a fully-fit squad to pick from.
“Starting the competition with a win will boost our morale and I trust the girls not to disappoint,” concluded the coach.
After 13 months without a competitive game, the Mares will play two matches in three days. They take on Zimbabwe on Monday in a repeat of last year’s 3rd/4th play-off, which saw the Mighty Warriors run out 3-0 victors.
The winner of Botswana’s group will play the winner of Group A, which includes Eswatini, Comoros, Angola and the hosts, South Africa.
The other semi-final pits the winner of Group B (Lesotho, Zambia and Malawi) against the best runner-up from the three groups.