Zebras braced for Madagascar tourney

Kitso Ramono

As the FIFA international break commences worldwide, the Botswana Football Association has accepted an invitation from the Madagascar Football Federation to participate in an international four-nation friendly tournament.

Titled the Madagascar Friendly Tournament 2024, the event is set to feature teams from Burundi, Botswana, and Rwanda and will unfold from March 22 to March 25.

Primed for the challenge, the Zebras intend to use this tournament as a vital preparatory platform ahead of their upcoming Africa FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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Scheduled to kick off in June, Botswana’s campaign will commence with matches against Uganda on June 3rd and Somalia on June 10th, 2024, at venues yet to be disclosed by FIFA.

Currently occupying the second spot in group G of the World Cup qualifiers, Botswana aims to capitalize on this opportunity to fine-tune their strategies.

Didier Gomes da Rosa, Head Coach of the Zebras, emphasized the significance of this tournament in their preparation for both the FIFA World Cup and CHAN qualifiers.

“These games are in line with FIFA World Cup qualifications as well as Chan qualifiers, which we don’t know when they will be held, but could be in May, so we need to prepare ahead of time. The tournament will help us establish a strong team and uncover our weaknesses, which we will have plenty of time to address before the games,” he remarked.

In a surprising turn of events, several seasoned players, including Mogakolodi Ngele, Mothusi Cooper, Lebogang Ditsele, and Thatayaone Kgamanyane, have been omitted from the squad.

This decision has stirred discussions across the nation, especially considering the players’ consistent presence in past call-ups.

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Their places have been filled by emerging talents such as Thabo Motswagole, Maikano Tladinyana, Obakeng Senono, Tshepo Maikano, and Oarabile Sekwai.

Additionally, Mpho Kgaswane and Segolame Boy will be absent from the team due to injuries sustained during training sessions.

Addressing the absence of key players, Coach Da Rosa clarified his stance, stating, “I did not call them because I want to play with young boys so that I can build a strong team that can produce results for the country in the future.”

Botswana’s inaugural match in the tournament is slated against Rwanda on Friday, followed by a showdown with Burundi on the subsequent Monday.

Coach Da Rosa has extended invitations to three international players, Kabelo Seakanyeng, Kitso Mangolo, and Tumisang Orebonye, who recently joined the squad.

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Their inclusion is anticipated to boost team morale and inject quality football expertise, given their experiences playing for top African clubs.

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