The campaign for the Brazil 2014 World Cup starts without at least five players who formed the core of the team that competed at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals early this year. Defenders Mosimanegape 'Twizer' Ramohibidu and skipper Mompati Thuma are out injured, while veteran goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo and mid-fielder, Dipsy Selolwane have retired from international football. Mogogi Gabonamong wrote to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) asking to be excused from the match due to family commitments.
Coach, Stanley Tshosane has given new faces a run in the two friendly games against Lesotho and Iraq. Township Rollers left fullback, Edwin Olerile can replace Ramoshibidu, but Tshosane is not a keen admirer. Kabelo Dambe on the other hand looks a firm favourite to replace Marumo as he has been preferred ahead of Gaborone United (GU) shot stopper Noah Maposa in recent games.
Dambe received rave reviews last year when he single-handedly gave the Zebras a draw against Nigeria in a friendly encounter. In the absence of Thuma, Tshosane has roped in Rollers centre back, Oscar Ncenga. Ncenga has impressed in the friendly games, but his inexperience stacks the odds against him to get a start. Either Musa Ohilwe or Tshepo Motlhabankwe may partner Ndiyapo Letsholathebe in a makeshift central defence. Boitumelo Mafoko or Patrick Motsepe can fill Gabonamong's place partnering Ofentse Nato in defensive mid-field, while Mogakolodi Ngele plays behind the lone striker, a position where Jerome Ramatlhakwana has excelled. Phenyo Mongala and Joel Mogorosi are favoured to operate on the wings.
In a telephone interview from Bangui yesterday, Tshosane said the team has been improving in the friendly matches and he is looking forward to a brilliant display against CAR. He said despite starting their preparations behind schedule and being unable to stick to their training plan, they will have to carry on with the job. He could not be drawn into discussing possible changes in the line-up for Saturday, saying everything can happen before the game. He said he was impressed with the performance of new players. The team arrived in Bangui on Wednesday and had their first training session in the evening. They were scheduled for another session yesterday afternoon. Tshosane said there are no serious injuries in the squad except some mild knocks to Ngele and Letsholathebe. Ngele did not train on Wednesday due to a hamstring, while Letsholathebe had a sore ankle sustained during the Lesotho match. Meanwhile, a bug of flu hit the team upon arrival in Bangui probably due to sudden changes in weather condition from Europe to Central Africa. Tshosane said the flu was only mild as players were able to train and the team doctors were monitoring the situation. The match kicks off at 3:00pm local time.