Last Updated
Tuesday 16 December 2014, 19:59 pm.
Young Zebras gallop to Morocco

The national Under-17 side on Sunday beat Algeria 4-2 in a penalty shootout to book a place in next year's CAF Under-17 Championship to be staged in Morocco.
By Staff Writer Wed 17 Dec 2014, 23:24 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Young Zebras gallop to Morocco








The game had ended 1-1 after Popo Ramatlapeng equalised in the second half having fallen behind in the opening half. The two sides played to a same scoreline of 1-1 in the first leg match in Molepolole leaving them on an aggregate score of 2-2 and the game had to be decided on penalties. The result ensured the Young Zebras booked their place at the continental fiesta to take place from April 13-27 next year.

This will be the third time Botswana will be competing at the competition having featured twice before in 1995 and 1997 when they were the hosts. The Sunday result has brought a ray of hope to Botswana football following a catastrophic year that saw all other teams failing to qualify for any major tournament.

First it was the Under-20, which dropped out of the CAF Under-20 Championship race.  The senior team the Zebras also failed to build on their 2011/2012 triumphs, as they were unsuccessful in their bid to qualify for the 2013 AFCON finals in South Africa.

Semi finalists from the Morocco tournament will represent Africa at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next October.  Despite not having a pleasant start to the qualifiers when they lost 2-1 away to Malawi, Botswana came back to win the second leg.

They did not have it any easier in their next qualifier against Rwanda, which they won 7-6 through penalties after a 1-1 aggregate stalemate. Botswana had won the first leg match in Gaborone 1-0 but the Rwandans got an equaliser on their own turf in Kigali.

Their next opponents, Algeria, were in the final stage of the qualifiers without having played a single match as their rivals pulled out.

Given insufficient preparations due to school exams that most team members sat for, and short of one man in the second half of the first leg match at Molepolole, the Young Zebras were held 1-1 by the Algerians who came from behind to force a draw.

Meanwhile, accolades have started pouring in for the team from different stakeholders. BFA President, Tebogo Sebego congratulated the team for their historic feat in a statement released yesterday. The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) also praised the boys, promising unconditional support for their preparations in the run-up to the finals.

Botswana joins the host Morocco and other African powerhouses among them Nigeria's Eaglets, the Starlets of Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Congo Brazzaville for the tournament, whose draw ceremony will be conducted in Cairo, Egypt, next Sunday.

 



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