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Young Zebras, Gunners clash over players

Mogaladi (left) and Drago share a smile during Wednesday's press conference PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The national Under-20 technical team faces uncertainty over the availability of Gunners players for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo-Brazzaville at the National Stadium tomorrow. Kick-off is 3pm.

Young Zebras’ coach, Dragojlo ‘Drago’ Stanojlovic has called up four Extension Gunners players in his 20-man squad but their availability is uncertain. Gunners recently suspended some of their key players and the Young Zebras’ quartet has seen more game time since the suspension.

The Peleng giants are chasing a top eight spot, although mathematically, they are not safe from relegation. The four players are Bakang Leshona, Baokeditswe Talane who started for Gunners in their last game against Gaborone United while Obusitswe Gabadise and Brine Makanku were on the bench.

As of Wednesday, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Gunners were still engaged in talks but had not found a common ground as Gunners prepares to face relegation-threatened TAFIC on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Young Zebras’ assistant coach, Michael Mogaladi said he could not comment much on the matter as the authorities were handling the issue. 

“Gunners need their players as they have problems at the club. As coaches, the situation is out of our hands, the leadership will look in to that. But we also need them for our game, they are Gunners’ players, the team needs them for the weekend’s game, (and) rightfully so,” he said.

“Extension Gunners have expressed their wish and desire to have their players over the weekend. We have engaged them to

try make sure that the players are available and ready to play for the national team on the weekend, so upon when the discussion yield any results, we will communicate,” the BFA public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane said.

The Young Zebras advanced to the second round of the qualifiers after edging out their Namibian counterparts on a 1-1 aggregate score. The home side advanced on the away goal rule. Stanojlovic highlighted the threat posed by their opponents.

“Congo is a very strong team with three players playing in European leagues. We respect them but on the field we will show them no respect. It is very important for us to get a win and to score goals in this game,” he said. Drago further called for support from the 12th man as he said a home win would be vital for the team’s quest for their maiden qualification to the tournament.

Skipper, Resaobaka Thatanyane, who scored the team’s solitary goal against Namibia, will lead the Young Zebras’ attack. The Miscellaneous attacker’s performances have since caught senior team coach, David Bright’s attention, who has since drafted him into the COSAFA Senior Challenge 30-man preliminary squad. The winner of the two-legged clash would face the Young Pharaohs of Egypt for a spot in the finals to be played in Niger.




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