The Young Zebras played to a 1-1 draw against Congo-Brazzaville in the first leg of the second round qualifiers of the 2019 Under-20 AFCON played at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Congolese reportedly arrived in the wee hours of the match day after missing their flight in Ethiopia. For much of the game, the visitors did not show any signs of heavy legs work and saved their energy until the last minute to earn a draw away from home.
Seven minutes into the game, the local side committed fouls in front of the box and on the eighth-minute, Mick Ossete-Itali had his free-kick saved by Lesang Senne. On the 17th minute, Beni Makouana beat the offside trap, but had his effort hitting the upright. Two minutes later, Thabang Khuduga gave the locals the lead as he beat two defenders inside the box and beat the keeper to the bottom corner. The Young Zebras started to pile pressure on the visitors.
From a corner kick, Pontsho Motshelanoka’s header went wide, missing the goal by just a whisker on the 23rd minute. Makouana once got behind the Zebras’ defence line, but his curler went wide. A minute to the break, Roland Okouri pulled a superb save from Senne with a header from close range inside the box in what was the last action before halftime as the Young Zebras took a one-goal lead into the break.
Three minutes into the second half, Baokeditswe Talane had his shot parried back into play by the keeper, but Bakang Leshona could not hit the net on the rebound from just inside the box. The visitors started to find their feet into the game as they enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball but could not carve out clear-cut chances. Substitute Eduardo Mountou put a telling cross inside the box, but Boreal Tomadzoto’s header went straight into the keeper’s hands on the 82nd minute. Three minutes to time, Talane who
On the 90th minute, Tomadzoto capitalised from the home side’s abysmal defending as rose highest to head home Junior Mouniengue’s cross to level matters. The draw puts Congo in a better position to advance to the next round as they secured an away goal. The return would be played this weekend in Congo-Brazaville.
Speaking to journalists after the game, Zebras’ coach Dragojlo Stanoljovic was not a pleased man as he slammed his charges for concentration loss in the dying minutes of the game. The Serbian went on to question the age of the visitors’ squad.
“I’m not happy, we played well for 88 minutes, tactically good, but we made a mistake and they scored, that’s football. I think Congo is a very strong team, but do you think the players are under 20 years, just look at their faces. But it’s not a problem, we played a good game, we had more chances. I will go to Congo to play for the win,” he said.
Botswana: Lesang Senne, Resaobaka Thatanyane, Boikhutso Ndliziyo, Baokeditswe Talane, Harvey Matema, Alphord Velaphi, Bose Ramontsho, Kago Monyake, Thabang Khuduga (Moabi Motlhaetsi), Bakang Leshona (Gape Thibedi), Pontsho Motshelanoka
Congo: Fran-Dom Tsatsou-Ndinga, Alves Ngakosso (Eduardo Mountou), Prince Mapata, Mick Ossete-Itali, Borel Tomadzoto, Jean Louamba, Roland Okouri, Glid Otanga (Chirst Benilde Kibakila), Mignon Etou-Mban (Junior Mouniengue), Beni Makouana
Cautions: Senne, Kibakila
Botswana 1 (Khuduga 19th)
Congo 1 (Tomadzoto 90th)