The Monitor :: Leekers hails winless Zebras after Tunisia draw
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Tuesday 13 November 2018, 16:21 pm.
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Leekers hails winless Zebras after Tunisia draw

Tunisia coach George Leekens believes Botswana’s young team has a bright future after the Zebras secured their first point in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers when they played to a 0-0 draw against the Carthage Eagles at the National Stadium on Friday evening.
By Thato Kala Mon 17 Nov 2014, 16:22 pm (GMT +2)
The Monitor :: Leekers hails winless Zebras after Tunisia draw








Peter Butler’s Zebras had lost all their Group G qualifier matches prior to Friday’s encounter and were without a single point. They have only collected one point from five qualifiers matches, but the Belgian coach, Leekens, is convinced they are on the right track.

“We had a difficult game here in Botswana; I told you Botswana has a good team. There was a good spirit. We were a bit stressed and did not play our game; we did what we had to do. Qualification is the most important thing,” he told Monitor Sport. Butler stuck to his pre-match plot to balance up play with some attacking football, with a bit of caution defensively. His defence was largely makeshift, with midfield grafter Boitumelo Mafoko partnering Mosha Gaolaolwe in the centre while Obonye Moswate played at right back with Edwin Olerile at left back.

Platinum Stars goalkeeper, Kabelo Dambe had a good game, saving a couple of close range shots to keep Zebras in the game. He was called into action as early as three minutes into the game when he punched back in to play a blistering shot from Tunisia’s Benyoussef Fakhreddine. He saved the rebounded shot immaculately, to the applause of the sizeable crowd that attended the game.

A minute later, the Zebras could have opened the score sheet but Segolame Boy saw his header miss the target.  

Dambe again saved another close range shot by Fakhreddine in the seventh minute as the subdued visitors were allowed space in Botswana’s half.

Zebras’ skipper, Joel Mogorosi, deployed as a lone striker on Friday, had two left-footed shots go wide just after the 20-minute mark. Apart from those few chances, the first half was a largely uneventful, with the Zebras occasionally pressing at their opponents but posing little danger to the Tunisians. Highly-rated youngster Boy showed flashes of brilliance.

The second half saw play swing from one end to another as both sides tried to break the deadlock. It was not to be as the match ended without a goal.

Topo Piet had his effort go wide in the 56th minute before making

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way for Jerome ‘JJ’ Ramatlhakwana four minutes later. JJ’s introduction saw Mogorosi moving to the right flank, lifting Zebras’ play a little. Botswana had a header saved in the 65th minute, perhaps the closest they came to scoring on the night.

Four minutes later, Mogakolodi Ngele was introduced in place of Mogorosi and did string a few passes forward, but the Zebras just could not get that goal.

Tunisia almost got a goal with just seven minutes to go, but Dambe did well to stop the one-on-one strike.

Botswana are still bottom of group G with a single point while Tunisia are assured of winning the group with 11 points, regardless of what happens in the remaining Group G fixtures.

Leekens excused his charges for the lackluster performance saying qualification was more important.

“I am very happy, (we have) no pressure anymore, there was a lot of pressure, we wanted to qualify today. We did it in one game to go, this is special for my boys. They deserve this,” he said.

He said they were happy Equatorial Guinea have been confirmed as the new tournament hosts, putting rest to speculation that the tournament could be cancelled. His opposite number, Butler was happy with Zebras’ performance, but believes a lot of change has to take place if the team is to outshine its rivals in future.

“It was really great, I was really proud of the way we competed,” he said.

He added: “There are many things we need to address for the future in terms of actual professionalism.”

Butler is convinced good preparation makes a difference. “If you want to move forward and compete against these countries you’ve got to strive to improve.”

Zebras play Senegal away from home on Wednesday to finish off their qualifying campaign. 

 

Teams:

Botswana

Kabelo Dambe, Moswate, Edwin Olerile (Mpharitlhe, 89), Gaolaolwe, Boitumelo Mafoko, Mogogi Gabonamong, Mogorosi (Ngele, 69), Bonolo Phuduhudu, Piet (Ramatlhakwana, 60), Boy, Lemponye Tshireletso

 

Tunisia

Mathlouthi Aymen, Chikhaoui Yasin, Mathlouthi Hamza, Maaloul Ali, Abdennour Aymen, Benyoussef Syam Habib, Ragued Hocine, Saihi Jamel (Ferjani Sassi, 60), Nater Houcine, Benyoussef Fakhreddine (Hamza Younes, 77), Chermiti Amine (Ouissem Benyahai, 90+1)

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