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GOING SOLO: Mongunda made it to the last 16

Team BW suffer in Benin

Botswana’s junior badminton team endured a torrid time on their return to international action at the U/19 All Africa Championships in Benin last week.

The long journey to West Africa ultimately ended in disappointment and several thrashings for the local youngsters, who received a sobering reminder of the standard required at continental level.

Of Team BW’s four representatives, Kelebogile Mongunda was the only one to emerge with any credit. Indeed, she was the only one to taste victory in the knockout games, winning two matches on her way to the last 16, her journey eventually coming to an end with a straight sets defeat to Mauritius; 21-15, 21-10.

Her compatriot, Kesego Hamo, as well as male teammates – Oreemetse Sedietso and Pakarae Marenga – were all dumped out in the first round.

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The doubles was also a disaster, the ladies losing to the hosts at the first time of asking while there was no neighbourly love on offer for the men, thrashed 21-2 and 21-6 by a ruthless South Africa.

Mongunda again proved a force to be reckoned with in the mixed doubles alongside Sedietso, with the pair making it to the last 16 before a 21-12, 21-14 defeat to Benin culled their progress.

BADMINTON HEAD COACH: Muniovandu Kandjou

BADMINTON HEAD COACH: Muniovandu Kandjou

The pain continued in the group section of the tournament.

Arriving with a Bronze medal as the target, Team BW failed to make the semis, losing three of their four matches to finish fourth out of five teams in Group A.

The local youngsters suffered a 5-0 drumming to South Africa, as well as 4-1 defeats to both Mauritius and Benin. The sole success came against Burkina Faso, with the youngsters edging out the West Africans 3-2 in a closely fought contest.

Sadly, that was as good as it got.

However, despite their woes on court, Botswana emerged in sixth position, equal with Ghana.

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Reflecting on the trip, Head Coach, Muniovandu Kandjou, was quick to point out the positives in what was ultimately a disappointing outing.

FINAL STANDINGS: U/19 All Africa Championships

FINAL STANDINGS: U/19 All Africa Championships

“I’m not happy with how we performed against other countries but I’m impressed with the individual performances of athletes. We would have loved to move to at least number 5 in the continent but settled for 6th.This remains a great concern because our performance in individual events was better than team events. We missed quarterfinals in girls’ singles and mixed doubles by an inch, that would have been great success for us,” he told Voice Sport.

Going forward, Kandjou still has high hopes for the quartet and is confident all four can enjoy success in the future.

“We need to rethink on our development initiatives and make some adjustments where necessary. Despite this bad performance, we must keep this team intact. We need to work on improving their performance, engage them in local competitions. We need to take advantage of South Africa’s proximity and forge a working relationship with them to help us improve. It will not strain us financially to compete in SA as compared to other countries in the continent,” noted Kandjou, adding that it was not all doom and gloom as the last time Botswana took part in the continental competition back in 2018, every single player lost in the first round of the singles.

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