Zebras have high hopes for Afcon

2011-11-05 20:25

Botswana’s national team pitted against Ghana, Guinea and Mali

Botswana Football Association (BFA) will go out of its way to make their maiden appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) next year a memorable one.

Botswana joins co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Niger in making their debut in the Afcon finals.

BFA’s technical director, Sonnyboy Sethibe, says they are not going to the tournament to add numbers, but to compete.

He described last week’s draw as fair, adding that they stand a chance of progressing to the second round.

The Zebras have been pitted against Ghana, Guinea and Mali – a group Sethibe is confident they can successfully negotiate their way through.

Four-time champions Ghana and Mali are favourites to go through from this group, but Sethibe said it was not a forgone conclusion that the Zebras will return home after the first round.

He said they had already arranged to play a friendly with Nigeria in Abuja on Saturday as part of their preparations.

“We are still finalising with another country in order to have two games in the coming Fifa week. We had initially engaged Ghana but, unfortunately, we were drawn against them. Bafana were also on our radar, but we are told they are playing Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our preparations for the tournament as we want to leave a lasting impression.”

Sethibe said they would also hold camps in West Africa prior to the tournament.

“We plan to use one of the high-performance centres in South Africa to prepare adequately.”

He said coach Stan Tshosane was in South Africa last month visiting teams with Botswana players.

The Zebras have six players in the South African league, and Sethibe believes they will count on their experience in the tournament.

The players are Dipsy Seloloane, Mogogi Gabonamong, Phenyo Mongala, Boitumelo Mafoko, Modiri Marumo and Jerome Ramatlhakwane.

“We are happy that your league will be closing in December as this will give us ample time with all the players.”

He said camps would run from December 15 to 24 and from December 28 to January 6.

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