Zebras to graze in SA for Afcon finals

2011-12-10 20:17

African Cup of Nations (Afcon) debutantes Botswana will arrive in South Africa tomorrow for a 10-day training camp in Rustenburg, North West.

Botswana Football Association (BFA) acting chief executive Tlhagiso Sethibe said the Zebras would establish their base at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Complex in Phokeng – the state-of-the-art facility also being utilised by Bafana Bafana – in preparation for the Afcon finals to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next month.

“Rustenburg is not far from us and it became an ideal place, as we want to focus more on the team’s preparation than on travelling long distances,” said Sethibe, adding that the altitude also influenced their decision.

He said coach Stanley Tshosane gave predominantly ­home-based players a call-up.

But former Vasco da Gama striker Jerome Ramatlhakwane and Bay United goalkeeper Modiri Marumo are likely to join their national teammates.

“Jerome is a free agent and Modiri is recovering from an injury,” said Sethibe.

The Zebras will regroup on December 26 until January 4 in a second camp that they are planning to set up in Qatar.

“We are fully sponsored by the government and we hope to acquire additional sponsorship to give extra incentives to players. They did well this year.

“We have a small population and having qualified for our first Nations Cup, we believe we can also pull a miracle just like Togo did in 2006 by qualifying for the World Cup.”

Botswana became the first nation to book a place in the the next year’s continental showpiece.

They ended their qualifying campaign unbeaten in a group that also had Tunisia and Togo.

Their impressive run did not go unnoticed as the Zebras have been nominated in three categories – Team of the Year, Tshosane (Coach of the Year) and Ramatlhakwane (Player of the Year) – in the CAF awards scheduled for Ghana on December 22.

Ramatlhakwane scored five of the seven goals that catapulted Botswana into African soccer annals. In their Afcon contest, Botswana are in the same group with Ghana, Mali and Guinea and they open against Black Stars on January 24.

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