The latest FIFA/ Coca-Cola World rankings released yesterday show Botswana ranked 35th in Africa out of 54 nations, and 124th in the world. Although the monthly rankings may not be the best tool for measuring a team's actual performance, the Zebras have recorded, if not the worst, one of their worst runs in recent times.
From January 2012 until December the same year, the Zebras played a total of 15 games, winning only two, drawing six and losing seven.
The worrying issue however is that the team has not won any official match in the period under review.
Out of the 15 games played, eight were friendlies, most out of FIFA official dates and against lowly opposition in the continent (Tanzania (36th), Kenya (38th) and twice against Lesotho (43rd). Out of the seven official matches played, the Zebras have managed only a draw against six losses.
It all started at the 2012 AFCON tournament in Gabon then they put up some sterling performance, but lost 1-0 against pre-tournament favourites Ghana.
The next game would turn out to be a baptism of fire for coach Stanley Tshosane and his boys as they were humiliated 6-1 by Guinea.
Although many felt there was no need to press panic buttons then as the team was making its debut competing in their first continental tournament, and therefore in a learning curve, Tshosane's tactics were badly exposed by Guinea. The former BDF XI mentor had stuck to an ultra-defensive play formation throughout the qualifiers despite heavy criticism from some quarters.
The team brought up desired results, which is winning matches, but their play has never been convincing.
Gloomy-faced supporters would often endure 90 minutes of anguish watching the team play home matches. Perhaps retired midfielder Diphetogo 'Dipsy' Selolwane summed it all up in a frank interview published in one of South African sports newspapers when he attributed sheer luck to the team's qualifying for AFCON.
"We did nothing different, we just played as we did in the past years and think this time around we had a bit of luck and qualified," Selolwane was quoted saying before the start of the 2012 AFCON.
The team left Gabon without a win, only three losses, the last being a 2-1 loss to Mali. Some positives were picked from the Mali match with youngster Mogakolodi 'Tsotso' Ngele scoring the team's first and only goal from open play at the tournament.
In the FIFA rankings, the Zebras continued with a downward spiral following
their highest ever ranking of 12th (CAF) and 53rd (FIFA) in December 2010.
After AFCON, the Zebras had to wait four months until playing their next match, a friendly against Lesotho in May. This was barely a week before they started their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with an away tie to improved Central Africa Republic (CAR).
They won the Lesotho friendly 3-0 before playing another friendly against Iraq in Turkey which they drew 1-1. Coach Tshosane had just signed a new three-year contract that was a subject to debate as many felt he could not take the team any further while some felt he deserved it as he had achieved something that no one has ever done before, qualifying for AFCON.
The Zebras travelled to CAR, which was then considered a less-fancied opponent and lost 2-0. They managed a 1-1 draw with neighbouring South Africa in the next game of the World Cup qualifiers, but it would be the last two matches of the year that spelt complete doom for Tshosane and his team.
Being on the advantageous side due to their 2012 qualification, the Zebras found themselves two matches away from qualifying for the 2013 AFCON finals.
The draw pitted them against Mali, whom they faced at the AFCON finals and they played the first match away in Bamako losing 3-0, killing any hope of making it to South Africa 2013. Although not a lot was expected in the return leg in Lobatse, except at least a result that would restore some national pride, the Zebras haplessly lost 4-1 in front of their home supporters ending the year in a shame.
The Zebras statistics from the past 12 months:
07/01/2012 Bots 0 - 0 Zimbabwe (Friendly)
24/01/2012 Bots 0 - 1 Ghana (AFCON)
28/01/2012 Bots 1 - 6 Guinea (AFCON)
01/01/2012 Bots 1 - 2 Mali (AFCON)
23/05/2012 Bots 3 - 0 Lesotho (Friendly)
28/05/2012 Bots 1 - 1 Iraq (Friendly)
02/06/2012 CAR 2 - 0 Bots (WCQ)
09/06/2012 Bots 1 - 1 RSA (WCQ)
12/07/2012 Kenya 3 - 1 Bots (Friendly)
16/07/2012 Bots 1 - 0 Zimbabwe (Friendly)
18/07/2012 Bots 0 - 0 Lesotho (Friendly)
15/08/2012 Bots 3 - 3 Tanzania (Friendly)
26/08/2012 Bots 0 - 0 Uganda (Friendly)
08/09/2012 Mali 3 - 0 Bots (AFCON Q)
13/10/2012 Bots 1 - 4 Mali (AFCON Q)
All Matches Official Friendlies
Played: 15 7 8
Won: 2 0 2
Drawn: 6 1 5
Lost: 7 6 1