The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has planned an intensive preparatory programme for the Zebras ahead of the upcoming 2019 AFCON qualifiers. The Zebras will play Mauritania in the first game of the qualifiers on the 10th June 2017 at the Francistown Stadium. In a rare turn of events the Zebras are set to leave for an eight-day training camp in Morocco prior to the opening game. BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane confirmed that they are currently working on finalising the arrangements for the camp in Morocco. Mpatane said the team is expected to depart on 28 May 2017. While in Morocco the national team is expected undergo an intense training programme, culminating with a friendly international match. “We have arranged that while in Morocco the team have a training match against the Democratic Republic of Congo,” revealed Mpatane. He said this training camp is a way of giving the team the much needed practice and preparation for the AFCON qualifiers. The Zebras will play DRC in Morocco on June 4. This has been hailed as a positive move by BFA to accord the team the chance to have some preparations before major games. Lack of proper preparations for the national team has always been coach Peter Butler’s and his predecessors’ biggest concern. All the coaches have been up in arms decrying lack of preparations for the team, saying it affects the final performance of the team. Mpatane said the training camp is not only for the AFCON qualifiers as the Zebras have a number of upcoming competitions. The team also has to participate in CHAN and the COSAFA Castle Cup this year.
The Zebras have just been drawn against Zambia in the COSAFA quarterfinals and Mpatane is confident that the team will do well. Asked if there is any target has been set for the team at the competition he said in the last edition the Zebras finished in the finals and so it will be expected that they maintain the good performance. However, he explained that since the team has undergone transformation it will be wise allow the team to show what it has. “However since we are currently negotiating with the coach for a new contract this is one of the things that we will be looking at,” said Mpatane. As for the Mauritania game on June 10, the BFA spokesperson called on Batswana to rally behind the team in a bid to qualify for the 2019 AFCON finals. To association has rolled out a campaign to get as many people to the game as possible. To try and attain this, tickets for the match are already on sale countrywide. The tickets sales started on Friday afternoon. The prices are P80 grand stand and P30 elsewhere. “This is the first time the tickets are made available early. This is to try and avoid last minute buying of tickets and it is a strategy to reach as many people as possible to go to the game,” explained Mpatane.