Botswana hope to build on good Nations Cup start

2010-07-08 13:06

While South Africa prepares to host the World Cup final, neighbours

Botswana host Chad tomorrow hoping to build on a dream start in the 2012 African

Nations Cup qualifiers.

Traditional poor travellers, the “Zebras” from the diamond-rich

southern African state went to Tunisia for an opening Group K game and came away

with a stunning lone-goal victory courtesy of Jerome Ramailhakwane.

An upset that ranks among the biggest since qualifying for the

premier African national team competition was introduced four decades ago lifted

Botswana into an early two-point lead on the standings.

Chad and Togo drew 2-2 in N’Djamena the same day and the latter

host Malawi in the other game this weekend in a mini-league offering places at

the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the group winners and

runners-up.

Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane finds himself in the unusual

position of dampening expectations as he gears up for Chad in a 15 000-seat

Gaborone venue because the much bigger National Stadium in unavailable.

“Having beaten Tunisia everyone believes we will win comfortably

against Chad,” the former army officer and a coach with 20 years experience told

AFP.

“I have stressed to my players that the Tunisia chapter is closed.

We went there with a plan to defend and counterattack at speed and it worked.

Now we must think only of Chad.”

Although Chad rate among the lightweights of African football,

Tshosane is nervous especially because the only video he has of the central

Africans is a 1998 Nations Cup qualifier they lost 4-0 in South Africa.

The Chadians led 2010 Nations Cup qualifiers Togo twice and could

have taken maximum points had Ezekiel Ngar not failed to convert a penalty on

the stroke of half-time.

Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri expects at least one point from his team

when they tackle Togo, playing at home for the first time since a fatal attack

before the 2010 finals in Angola.

An assistant coach and an official were killed and a reserve

goalkeeper seriously injured when rebels attacked the Togo bus as it entered the

restive Angolan enclave of Cabinda last in January last year and the team later

withdrew.

Barred by the tournament organisers from the 2012 and 2014

competitions for pulling out without formal notification, Togo successfully

appealed with Fifa president Sepp Blatter intervening.

“What I know is that Togo finished third behind Cameroon and Gabon

in a 2010 Nations Cup qualifying group and this suggests they are beatable,”

said Phiri of the Sparrowhawks.


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