U20s face Congo in AFCON qualifier
The African adventure continues for the U20 Zebras this Saturday when they host Congo Brazzaville in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at the National Stadium.
The youngsters reached this stage by knocking Namibia out in the last round, a 1-1 draw in Windhoek enough for them to progress on away goals after a goalless encounter in Gaborone.
If the boys manage to overcome Congo, who received a bye in the first round, they will face either Senegal or Egypt for a maiden place at next year’s AFCON, to be held in Niger.
However, for now that is still a distant dream, with the Congolese expected to provide tough opposition.
Speaking at a press briefing this week, U20 Head Coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic bemoaned his side’s wastefulness in front of goal in the game against Namibia.
However, he revealed the team have been working hard on their finishing in training and he expects them to be more clinical against Congo.
“We have been in training camp for two weeks, played against BDF XI and U17 team. I am happy with the way the boys played against Namibia and now it is time to focus on Congo,” said the former Sankoyo Bushbucks man, describing his team’s strength as their electric ‘wing play’ but stressing they needed to be ‘tactically disciplined’.
“Our opponents are very strong and Tanzania U20 Coach gave me information on their style of play. Three of their players are playing in Europe. This is a very important game for us and our aim is to win home,” stressed Stanojlovic, adding that the first ten minutes of Saturday’s encounter would be crucial for analysing his opponent’s to discover how best to attack them.
For his part, Young Zebras Captain Resaobaka Thatanyane said morale in the camp was high, with the whole squad united and determined to qualify for AFCON.
The talented Thatanyane, who received a call up to the senior national team camp for the up-coming COSAFA, urged the nation to get behind the team as their support could make the difference.
Assistant Coach Michael Mogaladi, who is also the Head Coach of Sharps Shooting Stars, admitted it was difficult preparing for AFCON whilst simultaneously trying to ensure his club finish the season in the top 8 – Sharps currently occupy 7th position in the table, two points clear of Mochudi Centre Chiefs in 9th with two games to go.
He noted that coaching the U20s was different to coaching men, as you had to be more patient with the youngsters, many of whom were not playing competitively.
Kick off time is 3pm and entrance is free, with the return leg scheduled for May 20.