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Mpote fields new Zebras

Portia Mlilo
FILE PIC: Zebras vs Angola in a friendly match

Zebras coach assembles youthful squad against Libya *We’re preparing for future competitions – Mpote

The Zebras will get the ball rolling against Libya at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium this weekend without most of their key players as Coach Mogomotsi Mpote fields a new and youthful squad in preparation for future competitions.

Botswana has already been eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 campaign and coach Mpote will be looking beyond the continental showpiece when he tests the waters with his youthful outfit against the Mediterranean Knights.

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With only two games left in Group J, Botswana is at the bottom of the table with a point while Libya is in the third position with 3 points.

Fate is out of the Libyans’ hands and they will need to win on the road and hope Equatorial Guinea who are second placed with 9 points lose against the group leaders, Tunisia who are on 10 points, to keep their hopes alive heading into the final analysis.

Speaking to Voice Sport, Mpote said he chose to assemble a young squad for this fixture as a deliberate move to prepare for the coming competitions.

He said for the benefit of experience he decided to include the current league top goal scorer, Thabang Sesinyi, who is the oldest at 31 years of age, to give guidance to the youngsters.

The Coach said he now has his sights set on the AFCON 2025 and 2025 World Cup qualifiers.

“We are introducing them to an international stage so that they adapt and to be competitive in the next games and it is not that others are not eligible. Having players from 19 to 28 years will benefit the team because we will have a squad that can train and compete together in about 10 years. We want to build their mental strength and bring the understanding of the tactical aspect. Another top goal scorer Omaatla Kebatho couldn’t join us because he is recovering from injury. I have brought young players like Eric Ookame from Eleven Angels, Monty Enosa from Masitaoka and Tebogo Kopelang from Security Systems,” said Mpote

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Coach Mpote further said players like Mosha Gaolaole, Tumisang Orebonye- who recently won the CAF Confederation Cup with his club USM Algers, are on two yellow card suspensions while Thato Kebue has a red card.

Kebue was given a red card during Botswana’s game against Equatorial Guinea in March.

Mpote said junior national teams U17, U20 and U23 do not have competition and that since the Olympic qualifiers come once in four years, Botswana is only relying on the COSAFA tournament. He said school sports stopped years ago and that this has also affected football development.

The Coach said Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSA) and Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) are vital in the development of a player. He noted that without school sports, national team coaches are forced to teach even the basics of the game at the highest level of competition.

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