A week in the sun

Portia Mlilo

Zebras’ Moroccan-bound as preparations heat up for AFCON Qualifiers

As part of their build-up to the crucial double header with Equatorial Guinea in the AFCON 2023 Qualifiers later this month, the Zebras will spend a week in Morocco fine-tuning their preparations.

The 24-player squad leaves for North Africa on Monday immediately after this weekend’s Orange FA Cup fixtures.

During their seven-day stay in Morocco, the national team are to play friendlies against two top local clubs, although it has not yet been confirmed who this will be.

The arrangement was made possible thanks to an existing exchange programme between Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF).

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In a brief interview with Voice Sport, BFA President, Maclean Letshwiti explained the deal dates back to 2017, runs for three years and has been renewed twice, with the latest renewal signed last month.

“Part of the deal is that FRMF will take care of the accommodation and meals expenses for the teams and coaches. We are only required to cover the travel expenses. If you remember well, Botswana previously sent senior national team men for training camp in Morocco and our women’s team the Mares had a chance to camp preparing for WAFCON last year. Morocco has the best facilities, world class technical centre and over 10 stadiums,” declared Letshwiti.

For his part, Zebras Coach, Teenage Mpote, said selecting his team was simple because the league is on-going and the players are all at the peak of their fitness.

The former Orapa United boss boldly told Voice Sport he was targeting a total of four points from the twin Group J clashes against Equatorial Guinea.

“This is not going to be an easy encounter away but I believe the squad we have is very competitive. The intention is to at least get a point away and win the return leg at home. I am very thankful for the support we are getting for BFA management. Training in Morocco, on better facilities and having friendly games will help us to thoroughly prepare for the qualifiers journey,” said Mpote, whose side sit 149th in the world, 51 places lower than Equatorial Guinea in the latest FIFA Rankings.

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Botswana are currently bottom of the four-team table after two games, but picked up a useful point last time out, holding Tunisia to a 0-0 draw in Francistown back in June.

A week in the sun
FIGHTING IN F/TOWN: The Zebras held Tunisia to a draw in their last qualifier

Mpote’s troops take on the ‘National Thunder’ on Friday 24 March before hosting the Central Africans in F/town four days later (Tuesday 28th), providing CAF deem the Obed Itani Chilume stadium fit enough to hold the game! Otherwise, it will be played in South Africa.

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