Tie balanced on a knife-edge after 0-0 draw
The country’s next generation of U20 football stars will be hoping that their time is now when they take on Namibia in the second-leg of their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday.
The U20 national team set off for Windhoek on Tuesday with the tie firmly in the balance following a goalless draw in Gaborone three weeks ago.
Although the first leg was devoid of any real talking points, with goal-scoring opportunities at a premium, the Young Zebras showed enough to suggest they will not be overawed in Namibia.
Indeed, speaking to Voice Sport through the week, the team’s Assistant Coach, Michael Mogaladi insisted that his charges were in the better position.
Reeling out the clichés, Mogaladi said he is confident his boys will make it through to the next round as they now understand, and are ready for, the Namibians physical style of play.
“I don’t think they are going to change much, it is going to be the same approach of power play. We might not have scored in the first game but I still believe that we learnt useful lessons from that game.”
The former Mochudi Centre Chiefs man stressed that morale in the camp was extremely high.
“The boys are looking forward to turning the tables against the Young Warriors. The boys have shown a lot of improvement in the friendly games we recently had and they scored goals. Every player is brimming with confidence and we are injury free,” said the highly respected Assistant Coach.
Echoing Mogaladi’s positive vibes, Head Coach, Dragojlo Stanojlovic praised his young squad for their discipline and hard work, which the Serbian tactician said was evident in their impressive attitude and commitment during training.
Stanojlovic, who was part of the Township Rollers technical team before taking up his new post with the Young Zebras earlier this year, described the Namibians as a ‘strong side tactically’.
However, he predicted that Botswana’s superior wing play would create goals and ultimately help win the game to seal an encounter with Congo in the next round.
The ex-Sankoyo Bush Bucks coach stressed that an early goal was crucial as it would help settle any lingering nerves amongst his players.
For his part, Young Zebras captain Resaobaka Thatanyane admitted that Sunday’s fixture was by far the biggest match in most of the team’s short careers to date.
“I expect us to do even better because we had enough time to prepare and train as a team. We are very much focused and if we continue playing well like we did in the first game we will go to the next round,” he predicted with the brash confidence of youth.