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African dates for Popa & Matebele; anything is possible

THUSO PALAI
Botswana has over the years generally done poorly in continental club competitions. At times, it feels like a waste of resources as we tend to participate rather than compete. In most cases, our teams never even make it to the business stages of the competitions, as they year in, year out get knocked out in the preliminary stages.

Thus far, Notwane Football Club remains the only team from Botswana to have gone the furthest in any CAF continental club competition. Over the years, our teams have been humiliated and to some extent embarrassed themselves. Fresh on our minds is the 7 - nil humiliation of Mochudi Centre Chiefs by DRC’s TP Mazembe last year. There has been other maulings in the recent past. There has been encouraging results as when Gaborone United beat high flying Orlando Pirates of South Africa. This goes to show that anything is possible and if our two representatives apply themselves and have a bit of luck, they might just spring a surprise.

As a Motswana I hope for the best for the local teams, but past results don’t inspire much confidence. I might be wrong, but it is maybe a mirror of the standard of our football as compared to our African counterparts. We always struggle in Africa.

Two of Botswana’s most successful clubs Township Rollers and BDF X1 will represent Botswana in African club competitions. League Champions Popa play against South Africa giants Kaizer Chiefs while Cup winners Matebele play against Tanzania’s Young African. Both Kaizer Chiefs and Young Africans have good pedigree and will present a great challenge. Kaizer Chiefs comes back to African club competitions after a few years’ hiatus. They haven’t actually done well in Africa, except when they won the Cup winners Cup years ago.

Young Africans have over the years also played in continental club competitions without much success. They will however fancy their chances against the Botswana sides. Both teams are currently doing well

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in the League and Cup. However local teams seem to choke when they go into Africa. Football being football, anything is possible and we might just spring a surprise. Even though the odds are heavily stuck against Popa and Matebele, they won’t go down without a fight, if indeed they go down. This is the time for Batswana to rally behind the two sides as they will be representing the country.

BDF X1 has had a topsy-turvy season, but have now got into their stride. They currently sit 3rd on the Log standings and are in the Mascom Top 8 Cup semi-finals. There have been murmurs that they might pull out of the competition, but they run the risk of being suspended from CAF competitions for a few years if they do so. They are pulling all the stops to ensure they do participate.

On the other hand the League Champions in Township Rollers are ready for the onslaught. The Log leaders have been in impressive form over the past two years and are up for the challenge. They will however not have it easy against the more fancied Kaizer Chiefs. Popa has strengthened in the just ended transfer window and roped in experienced campaigners.

In Young African and Kaizer Chiefs, the local sides face tough sides with African pedigree. The 2 teams will be looking to advance as well, and these games will be tight. The away legs will be crucial for Matebele and Popa. Although, it will be tough, this is football and anything is possible. Popa and Matebele might just spring a surprise.



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