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Zebras go trophy hunting

MQONDISI DUBE
The Zebras will face Chipolopolo in the final on Saturday PIC: COSAFA
This could be the moment. Tomorrow, outside the picturesque Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, waves will be on their routine, crashing on the Indian Ocean, oblivious of what is going on inside the basket-shaped World Cup facility.

Inside the stadium, Botswana’s interim coach, Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote and the Zebras will look to create a piece of history.

The Zebras have ventured deep into KwaZulu Natal on a trophy-hunting mission, looking to land their first significant piece of silverware since Botswana’s Independence in 1966.

In 2016, the Zebras were agonisingly close in Windhoek, Namibia, but it ended in heartbreak, as Bafana Bafana won 3-2, to steal the COSAFA Castle Cup in a pulsating final.

Now, the Zebras have been presented with a perfect opportunity to finally lay their eager hands on the regional trophy, when they take on Zambia at the Moses Mabhida Stadium at 3pm tomorrow. There were a sizable number of Doubting Thomases when the Zebras flew out on Thursday last week, destined for South Africa’s coastal city.

One man never carried any iota of doubt, and that was coach, Mpote, who was inserted into the position on a part time basis, following the sacking of David Bright in February.

Mpote declared during an open training session last week that he was going for the ultimate prize.

“We do not train to lose,” Mpote said. Some might have felt his confidence was misplaced, but the unheralded Orapa United coach is now on the cusp of rare glory.

He is only the second coach, after Peter Butler, to take the Zebras to the COSAFA Cup final. Mpote will want to

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take it a step further and become the first ever coach to win major silverware with the Zebras, and also break the Angola, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe dominance.

The four countries are the most successful in the COSAFA Cup, with 14 titles amongst them, since the tournament’s inception in 1997. Other than the quartet, only Namibia has won the cup.

“This is a big achievement for the boys and the technical team. Now our plan is to go and fight against Zambia’s domination, as you are aware, they have always had an upper hand,” Mpote told Mmegi Sport yesterday.

He said the morale was high in camp with no injuries. Focus would be on rising diminutive midfielder, Mothusi ‘Mini’ Cooper, who was in imperious form against Lesotho, which earned him the man-of-the-match award.

Ezekiel Morake is an assured presence between the sticks, while Mosha Gaolaolwe is the glue that has kept the back four together.

In midfield, Lebogang Ditsele has been a towering presence, and Segolame Boy has shown touches, which made him a household name a few seasons back. Upfront, the wily-old fox, Joel Mogorosi, brings bags of experience and, together with Thero Setsile, should prove a handful to the physically imposing Zambians.

A lot other Zebras players are likely to catch the eye of South African scouts as the team has impressed in the two games.



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