Zebras seek to chew Chad
After what has been something of a sideshow to the main event of the World Cup, local football fans have reawakened an interest in the Zebras following the shock win against Tunisia.
The game against Chad this afternoon is also sandwiched into a rest day before the World Cup final, but the University of Botswana stadium is unlikely to be as empty as the El Menzah ground was in Tunisia last week.
Coach Stanley Tshosane said of last week’s game: “We had a plan for Tunisia when we left the country and that plan worked for us.”
He explained that he played with four defenders and two holding midfielders in Nato and Patrick Motsepe, leaving Jerome Ramatlhakwana as the sole striker in a 4-5-1 formation. After relentless attacks by the Carthage Eagles, Tshosane then sacrificed Dips Selolwane and introduced Mokgathi Mokgathi to bolster the strike force. Ramatlhakwana scored in the 35 minute and the Zebras held on for a famous victory that has local fans smiling again.
Tshosane is aware that the nation now expects that the team will chew and spit out the unfancied Chadians, ranked 143 in the FIFA ratings, 24 places below the Zebras. Despite the Brazilian nickname of ‘Sao,’ their unflattering entry in Wikipedia describes them as, “ one of the weakest teams in Africa as well as the world.”
Nevertheless a down-to-earth Tshosane is under no illusion that last week’s victory will be seen as little more than a flash in the pan should the team stumble today. “I and my team have already put the Tunisia victory behind us, we are now focusing on the Friday encounter against Chad,” he said.
The Zebras mentor was concerned that they knew little about their opponents who pulled off a shock of their own with the 2-2 draw against Togo.
“They are a closed book. We have been trying to find ways of getting tapes of their matches, but to date we have not secured them,” he said.
The tactician said he had wanted to watch the team’s approach to matches before he squares up with them today.
“When I heard that the team would arrive in the country on Tuesday I was happy hoping I would have two days to watch them at training. It is important to watch their height and their physique,” he added.
The coach went on to point an accusing finger at the criticism leveled at him in some sections of the media. “They may have a problem with me being here, but the way they go about it is destructive and defeats the whole purpose of having a national team,” he suggested.
The soft-spoken coach said it was shameful the way journalists were using players to try and divide the team.
“When we were in Zimbabwe a certain reporter called one of the players and I heard him asking about tactics and whether the players understood me. Why would a reporter ask such things?” Tshosane asked.
Shrugging off his detractors he sounded an upbeat note ahead of the game. “The morale is high in the camp. We have promised the nation to take this team one step forward to achieve something and Friday is an important day,” he said.
Meanwhile behind the scenes it appears that last weeks victory has put on hold the protest letter the BFA wrote to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) complaining of their sudden start to the campaign. This was caused by the inclusion of Togo in Botswana’s group after they were an initial absentee due to a CAF suspension.
Sources at the BFA said that to date CAF had not responded to Botswana’s concern. Now it is apparent that Botswana are no longer concerned with a follow–up letter as the team go in search of another victory at 1500 today.