Botswana Senior Netball team coach, Sithulile Mlotshwa is confident of a strong showing at the M1 Nations Cup 2019, which will be held from 20 to 26 October in Singapore.
Currently ranked 26th in the world, the local ladies will play against Cook Islands (12), Ireland (25), Namibia (33), Papua New Guinea (20) and the host nation Singapore (ranked 28th).
The current squad boasts a number of the players who impressed at the 2017 Youth World Cup (WC) and have since made the step-up to senior level.
The likes of Fattimah Dino, Cheludo David, Maipelo Mosotho, Boikanyo Selogetso and Kgomotso Matibibini will be banking on the experience of two years ago as they go in search of Asian glory.
Speaking to Voice Sport through the week, Mlotshwa said she was looking forward to seeing her troops in action against higher-placed opposition.
“Not taking anything away from lowly ranked teams in this tournament, however, our aim is to do well against these highly ranked nations. Then we finish off with the lowly ranked teams so that we seal our spot for a medal game,” she explained, adding preparations for the tournament have gone well.
“The training has been positive for the past five weeks whilst we were in camp. We played a few friendly matches in efforts to learn where we are still lacking behind but there are great signs of hope.
“There is talent in Botswana, and we need to look out for this potential and unearth it by continuously playing high ranked teams as a way of developing the player’s mental strength from a tender age!”
For her part, team captain, Francinah Eyman revealed morale in camp was high and the team are itching to get started.
“I am impressed with the way the girls have shown great team spirit and support to one another. We have all had our fair share of challenges during this period but the morale has been really amazing.”
Eyman noted that most of the squad have participated in this tournament before and so will not be overawed by the occasion.
“This tourney is not new to most of us. We know what to expect and are looking forward to competing. We want to represent the country with pride and bring the medal home.”
The team was expected to leave for Singapore this Thursday (October 17), with their first game against the host nation Singapore on Monday.
Zebras go with the Floh
Youth and experience lead the line
The exuberance of youth and the craft of experience will be tasked with spearheading the Zebras attack as the long road to Cameroon begins in Zimbabwe today (Friday 15 November).
Security Systems veteran forward, Kenanao ‘Floh’ Kgetholetsile, 36, and Extension Gunners speedy striker, 22-year-old Misani Thupa make for an unlikely partnership.
However, the pair will be hoping they can fire the goals that get Botswana’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign off to a winning start.
First up is a Zimbabwe side oozing with both talent and confidence. The Warriors squad boasts the likes of Belgian-based winger Knowledge Musona and Kaiser Chiefs midfield star, Khama Billiat.
The trip to Harare is followed by Monday’s home fixture against reigning AFCON champions Algeria. Led by Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, the North Africans will be confident of victory.
Speaking to Voice Sport recently, Kgetholetsile revealed that even though time was not on his side, he never gave up on his dream of playing for Botswana.
“My love for football began from a very tender age with a sole dream of representing my country at national competitions at some point. However, it happened at a later stage because of unforeseen circumstances which were beyond my control and they made me to be the strong player I have become at the moment,” declared the dreadlocked goal machine.
On the other hand, Thupa’s call up has come early in his rapidly rising career.
“I grew up with parents who were always in my neck to get an education. Finally, I was able to complete my studies and started playing football regularly until I came to Gunners,” he said, describing his selection for the national team as the proudest moment of his fledgling career.
Goals proved hard to come by in the Zebras last effort at qualifying for AFCON. In a disastrous six-game campaign which yielded just one point, Keegile’s Kone’s fourth minute strike in a 2-1 loss to Mauritania was the only time Botswana found the back of the net.
Between them, Floh and Thupa will look to provide fresh impetus to the Zebras stale attack.
Joel in the crown
REIGNITING THE SPIRIT OF 2012
For many years we have been drawn in tricky qualifying groups but we always try our best to come up with the necessary results.
Taking you back to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) held in Gabon, for the qualifiers we were in the group of death, which included Tunisia and Togo, but we managed to qualify anyway.
That is the spirit the boys need coming into these crucial encounters, first against Zimbabwe and then Algeria, who are the defending AFCON champions and include Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez in their ranks.
A STRONG SQUAD – DESPITE MY OMISSION!
Honestly, Coach Adel Amarouche has selected a good team. He has picked in-form players who are all doing well for the respective clubs.
Amarouche has a clear strategy and knows exactly how he wants the guys to play.
Also, I have no hard feelings for not being called up to the team because others deserve the same chance that I once got.
We just need to support those who have been given the nod to represent the country.
CHILLYBOY’S RED HOT APPOINTMENT
Congratulations to Chillyboy! Truly speaking, he deserves this appointment and I believe he will excel.
We have always wanted a youthful figure who will address our problems as local athletes in efforts to grow our sports.
However, footballers need to understand Chillyboy is not only there for football but all sporting codes.
Anyway, I say this again, the man was not chosen by mistake but by merit!
LIVERPOOL’S SIZZLING START
Liverpool FC were excellent at the weekend, hammering the defending champions Manchester City 3-1 in a truly remarkable game at Anfield.
The Reds are now eight points clear at the top and their players are showing the hunger required to win the Premier League for the first time in the club’s glittering history.
Regardless of the opponents they face, Liverpool always go for the win.
Jurgen Klopp has got them playing wonderful football and I must admit it’s a pleasure to watch – although as an Arsenal fan that’s difficult to say!
OUTCLASSED BY GALAXY
Jwaneng Galaxy are a very good, consistent team.
Their squad have been together for a long time, they complement each other well and deliver high class performances week in week out.
It certainly showed in our 3-1 loss to them last Wednesday when we were sadly second best.
Nevertheless, we took the loss to our drawing board and I am confident we will come back stronger.
Cooper says sorry
Apologetic Mini Cooper zooms back into Zebras fold
After making headlines for his drink-fuelled indiscipline whilst on national team duty, Mothusi Cooper has offered a heartfelt apology to the nation.
Although he was not included in the Zebras initial 25-man squad for the upcoming AFCON 2021 qualifiers with Zimbabwe and Algeria, Cooper’s remorse has earned him a recall to the side.
Widely regarded as one of Botswana’s most talented footballers, the 22-year-old central midfielder was one of four players suspended from the Zebras by Head Coach, Adel Amrouche.
Cooper, along with Orapa United players, Mothusi Johnson and Onkabetse Makgantai and Thero Setsile (TS Galaxy) were booted out in disgrace after being caught drinking alcohol while in camp.
The quartet’s boozy antics reportedly took place in-between the Zebras ill-fated two-legged FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier against Malawi, which they lost 1-0.
Whilst Cooper’s drinking mates remain condemned to the sidelines, the Township Rollers playmaker has been handed a shot at redemption.
Having originally been omitted by Amrouche when the Belgian announced his squad on Monday, Cooper was handed a surprise recall just 24 hours later.
This was followed by a 39-second video of Cooper on social media in which he apologised to the nation for his indiscipline.
The dreadlocked midfielder, who goes by the nickname Mini Cooper, advised professional players to stop drinking alcohol ‘before it’s too late’.
He further apologised to his family for his misbehaviour and was quick to thank Amrouche, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the fans for giving him a second chance with the national team.
Not wishing to dwell on the matter, Amrouche described Copper as a good player bursting with potential.
“I’m glad he’s apologised,” added the coach, whose side left for Zimbabwe on Tuesday, where they meet the Warriors in Harare on Friday.
The Zebras then return home, where they face the daunting task of hosting recently crowned AFCON champions Algeria at the National Stadium on Monday.
In a brief interview with Voice Sport, Amrouche stressed that whilst Botswana players are talented, they need to work on their discipline and ‘respect the camp’.
Although he bemoaned the lack of preparation time the squad have had together, Amrouche noted match fitness was not a concern.
“I believe my players are ready to represent the nation well. There are new players in the team – they will be guided by the more experienced guys who have played in international games before. We do not have stars and are in the process of building a strong team with a good mentality,” added Amrouche.
The no-nonsense tactician further revealed that Jwaneng Galaxy’s midfield maestro Lebogang Ditsele was called for camp but did not show up.
“If he does not respect his country he should stay at home. I will work with those who are willing to play!” blasted the Belgian.
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