Mares qualify for WAFCON again
For the second time in a row, Botswana ladies have qualified for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) finals, squeaking past Kenya in a nail-biter at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
Although they rode their luck at times, defending deeper and deeper as the Kenyans pushed for an equaliser, the Mares held on for a famous 1-0 win to book their place in Morocco next July.
With the tie evenly poised after last Wednesday’s first-leg in Nairobi finished 1-1, goalkeeper, Sedilame Boseja saving a last minute penalty, another close encounter was expected as the nations ranked 149 and 147 in the world met in Gaborone.
Bosija again emerged the hero, the Sundowns shot-stopper denying the Kenyans from the spot for a second time, diving full-stretch to her right to keep out Cynthia Shilwatso’s second-half penalty.
With the score locked at 0-0 at that point, it proved a match-defining moment.
Not long after, Keitumetse Dithebe grabbed the game’s only goal, showing great composure to lift her 62nd minute shot over the advancing keeper. It was Dithebe who got the all-important away goal in the Kenyan capital six days earlier as well.
Speaking to Voice Sport after the match, newly appointed Mares Coach, Alex Malete said his girls executed the game plan perfectly.
“After the first leg, we had to change our game plan, how we defend and attack in order to adapt to the demands of the match. It forced our central midfielders to move a bit outside to cover up. Towards half time, we were struggling a bit with the second ball. They resorted to long balls, launching it up to their giant number four, who would flick it on for their number two,” said Malete, adding that despite qualifying for a second successive WAFCON, the Mares still have much to work on.
For her part, captain fantastic Boseja, said she knew exactly which way the Kenyan striker would go with her penalty.
“I stayed calm because I knew she would shoot to my right,” explained the Tutume born goalie, who celebrated her 26th birthday on Friday.
“We worked so hard in our preparation, and we deserved to qualify. We all wanted this. The girls went all out and delivered. Botswana has built a strong team over the years and this time we must reach the finals. I have played with most of the players for many years, so we understand each other’s play better. I would like to thank Batswana for their continued support. They braved the heatwave just to give us the much-needed support. Now they can start saving for their flight tickets to Morocco,” smiled Bosija.