The senior national team, Zebras’ hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations have gone up in flames. This is after going four games without scoring a goal while salvaging only one point from a draw with Burkina Faso on Tuesday.
Coach David Bright’s team were humbled 0-3 away in Burkina Faso on Saturday and there had been a lot of hopes that the team would use home advantage to secure maximum points and create hope of qualifying.
They are now lying at the tail end of the group’s log table with Mauritania at the top with nine points, Burkina Faso second with seven points and Angola on third with six points. The Zebras made their AFCON maiden appearance in 2012 under coach Stanley Tshosane.
The team incurred several challenges ahead of Burkina Faso game with the players reported to have boycotted training pending payment of allowances. There was also the suspension of Lebogang Ditsile for alleged misconduct after sneaking alcohol and girlfriend into the camp, and the injury of South Africa based Highlands Park Lesenya Ramoraka came as a blow to the team. The key striker Onkabetse Makgantai’s passport debacle – where at the last minute he failed to make the trip due to his passport getting wet – also hurt the team’s prospects.
Poor team selection?
Local supporters have criticised poor team selection, pointing out that Bright had on many occasions made several blunders when doing team selection.
Players, they argued, who were not fit enough due to limited game time at their clubs did not rise to the occasion. They noted with concern that some of the South African-based players in Kabelo Dambe and Mogakolodi Ngele were given priority against more deserving and match-fit players.
Zebras’ poor away record
The national team’s away record has not been impressive losing two away games to Angola and Burkina Faso respectively. However, the foundation for the Zebras’ failure in the 2019 AFCON qualifying campaign came from the first qualifier match against Mauritania late last year when they lost 0-1 at home.
The Zebras losing streak then continued as it was beaten 1-0 by Angola and 3-0 by Burkina Faso last weekend before settling to a draw in home game. Botswana awaits tough tests against resurgent log leaders Mauritania in away game and home game against Angola.