The women senior national team coach, Gaoletlhoo Nkutliswang says she is happy with the team's performance in the just ended 2018 Women COSAFA Championship finals held in South Africa, despite failure to qualify to the next round which was their main target.
The team was drawn against the host South Africa, Malawi and Madagascar in Group A and managed a solo victory against Malawi in the opening game, only losing by 1-0 to South Africa in the second match before playing to a 1 all draw against the Malagasy team.
Nkutliwasang told the media on Friday that the tournament was very tough citing that they were pitted against the powerhouses in terms of Malawi and RSA and the resurgent Madagascar, however she has expressed delight in their efforts adding that it is a clear sign that the local women football has reached the next level.
She contended that the team took the trip to South Africa by road which took a toll on the players and brought a lot of fatigue into the players due to long travelling hours as well as the harsh weather conditions they played under. Against all these odds the players did not hesitate to put on a sterling performance. “We had a very good tournament and I am very proud of my players for showing such a good character and hard work against the best. Our first game win against Malawi gave us more confidence going into the next tough and exciting encounter against Banyana Banyana in which I feel were robbed in many occasions only for us to lose it in dying minutes” echoed coach Nkutlwisang
Quizzed on what is the motivating factor for her to keep on the senior women national team to compete better as compared to the Zebras although there is no adequate support for active local women league, she noted that her aspirations is to see the women football gaining momentum as well and cited that she keen on ensuring that national team represents and participates in all competitions’ despite lack of game to the players in their different teams due to lack of support of the local women football.
Nkutlwisang further said the most important thing is to give the players exposure to more competitive tournaments as to boost and make them ready for plying their trade in other competitive foreign leagues. She added that the selection result of mixing the experienced and upcoming youngsters from the U-17, 20 and 23 respectively towards the COSAFA tournament has beard positive results in terms of trying new combinations going ahead and building for the future.
Moreover, she indicated that there is a need to scout and search for talent in other outskirts places outside Gaborone as there also exists good raw talent which needs to be unearthed and given an equal opportunity in the senior national teams.
For her part the team skipper Bonang Bebeto Otlhagile indicated that the team had a very good tournament as the players had an opportunity to impress the technical team for future selection. Bebeto as she popularly known said she was also pleased by the newly capped young players for playing well alongside the regular players.
She also rubbished some of the recent circulating claims that she has retired from the national team upon return from the COSAFA tournament.“I am aware of some the published rumors’ that I have decided to call it a quit in international football but for me those are just lies peddled because if I retire I will do it formally and I am still part of the national team and I am still available for selection to represent the team,” he said .
Botswana Football Association (BFA) spokesperson Tumo Mpatane also applauded the team for playing well and he also said the association is keen on development of women football through the design and implementation of FIFA new development strategy tailored for running women football.