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Stranded

NO WAY HOME: Seakanyeng with Orebonye

*Zebra stars unable to leave Morocco

*Due set to miss crucial qualifiers

The Zebras’ hopes of qualifying for next year’s AFCON have suffered a huge blow after two of the country’s star players were all but ruled out of the up-coming games with Zimbabwe and Algeria.

27-year-old midfield mistro Kabelo Seakanyeng and strike partner, Tumisang Orebonye, 24, are both in sensational form. Unfortunately, they are also both stuck in Morocco.

Barring a BFA miracle, the pair will remain stranded in North Africa following the country’s decision to ban travel to and from Botswana due to Covid-19 safety measures.

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On Monday, Botswana was added to a list of 29 other countries the Moroccan government has prohibited residents from visiting.

The restrictions are in place until 10 April.

With the Zebras set for crucial back-to-back AFCON qualifiers within that time, hosting Zimbabwe next Thursday before facing off against Algeria four days later, it means Seakanyeng and Orebonye will miss out.

The duo have been in fine form since joining Moroccan second tier outfit, Olympique Club de Khouribga (OCK) back in November. They left for North Africa shortly after Botswana’s all-important 1-0 win over Zambia, which breathed new life into their stuttering AFCON campaign.

A point below Zimbabwe with two games to play, victory over the northern neighbours in Francistown next week would be a giant step towards securing a spot in Cameroon 2022 at African football’s top tournament.

They will have to do so without the help of their Moroccan exports.

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In a brief interview with Voice Sport, a devastated Orebonye revealed they were due to fly home and join up with the national team this Thursday when disaster struck.

The former Township Rollers hit-man said they had initially been scheduled to fly out on Monday but their Team Manager had delayed in booking their Covid tests.

“We did the test on Monday instead of Sunday as was originally planned. Just after taking the tests, we were told all flight out of the country had been suspended,” said Orebonye, his dejection obvious.

“We were looking forward to the game and it is very important to us. It will be painful if we won’t be able to honour it. There is no competitive football at home for a year now and we were hoping to assist since our league is on here. We are stuck,” he concluded grimly.

When reached for a comment, Botswana Football Association (BFA) PRO, Tumo Mpatane stressed the association is doing all they can to find a resolution.

He revealed they have engaged Morocco football and health authorities to find ‘a better solution’ to help players honour the up-coming fixtures.

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“We are working on a solution that best fits Botswana and Morocco authorities. Other countries also find themselves in this situation but there might be light at the end of the tunnel. After having players in a non-contact bubble for weeks we planning a chattered flight to Algeria,” said Mpatane.

Reports also indicate the majority of Zimbabwe’s Europe-based players will not be available for the game. Key players likely to miss the match include their captain Knowledge Musona, Macauley Bonne Alec Mudimu, Marvelous Nakamba and Teenage Hadebe.

Botswana will also be without instrumental midfielder Mothusi Cooper for the clash with the Warriors. The 23-year-old is suspended having picked up consecutive yellow cards against Zambia.

However, he will be available for the Algeria game as the Zebras look to cause an upset in the defending African champion’s backyard.

Coach Adel Amrouche is also expecting the South Africa-based duo of Mogakolodi Ngele and captain Thatayaone Ditlhokwe to feature.

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