Young Zebras coach, George Mogopodi expressed concern in his side’s lack of international exposure ahead of the COSAFA Under-20 Cup scheduled for next week.
Speaking to Mmegi Sport after a practice match against Police XI on Wednesday, Mogopodi said his side could not secure an international friendly prior to the regional spectacular as most of his players were engaged in school commitments.
“We started our training very late, as we could not assemble the whole squad as most of the players were writing their examinations.
We could not secure a friendly because we did not have the whole squad.
The friendly could have helped us in building the players’ confidence ahead of the tournament. One worrying factor is that some of these players are bench warmers at their respective teams hence they need some minutes of football,” he said.
The Gaborone United development coach however expressed confidence in his squad as they beat Prisons XI 2-1 in a friendly played a week before going down 3-0 to Jungle Kings on Wednesday evening. “These games helped us a lot because when you assemble a squad you have to build combinations despite limited time. We only have a problem on the attack.
We do not have that sense of urgency when we enter the final third, however defensively we are solid.
The team is okay; we just hope to get one more game with one of the reserve teams in South Africa,” Mogopodi said. The coach is expected to trim his 25-man squad to 20
He said he has not made up his mind on the final squad. “We would have liked to take the whole squad but due to the rules we have to trim down to the required number. One of the goalkeepers came into camp carrying an injury and that’s the only injury concern we have at the moment.” He said his opponents are a closed book.
“We have not yet had time to scout them. But with the talent that we have I believe we can make it. We just have to believe in ourselves and build some confidence in the players because nerves can also play a part,” he said. Young Zebras’ group rivals South Africa beat their Kenyan counterparts 3-1 over the weekend while Lesotho, who have named the youngest squad for the tournament and Swaziland, are training behind closed doors. Mogopodi’s side has been given boost as Amajita could not assemble their strongest squad, as their key players are regulars in the ongoing Multichoice Diski Challenge reserve league.
The Young Zebras will kick off their title contest against Lesotho on Wednesday before taking on Swaziland on December 9. The team will face neighbours South Africa on December 12. The team is expected to leave on Sunday.
Meanwhile, local referees Tirelo Mositwane and Kitso Sibanda will officiate at the tournament.