FRANCISTOWN: Zebras caretaker coach, Teenage Mpote believes that his team has the potential to beat Zambia in their own backyard in order to advance to the last round of the CHAN 2020 qualifiers.
Mpote was speaking on Friday, moments after his side played to a goalless draw against Zambia in a first leg CHAN qualifying clash at the Francistown Sports Complex.
The Zebras have often been criticised for sitting at the back and being a bit toothless but since Mpote took over he has turned the team into an attacking side that often creates chances.
On Friday, the Zebras had an upper hand (in most aspects) against Chipolopolo as Zambia are affectionately known. They also created a few notable scoring chances.
Ahead of the match Mpote made it clear that the Zebras had to win the first round clash in order to improve their chances of advancing to the last stage of the qualifiers. He warned that it might prove difficult to beat Zambia in front of their fans.
“My players are not that fit because we are still in pre-season in Botswana. They applied themselves well and dominated Zambia who had fitter players because their league is still on,” he said in a post match interview.
He added, “Looking at the way the boys played, especially in the second half I believe we can beat Zambia away.
In the first half, they (Zebras) were playing more at the back instead of playing more passes into the second phase of attack so that we can get into the final third and get one
The Orapa United mentor noted that if Zambia can come to Botswana and take a draw he is confident that his team can beat Lusaka.
“Of course I expect a tough game, but we can go there and surprise them,” he said.
Mpote also defended his decision not to replace Orapa United forward Omaatla Kebatho although he had what many pundits thought was a less eventful day.
“His role was to hold the balls and create chances for advancing midfielders because he has strength. The problem is that most of our passes in the final third were not up to scratch and we could not play to his strength. But if you look at the second half he was better because we were fairly good in the final third and playing to his strength as well. He created a few chances for some of our advancing midfielders in the second half,” Mpote said.
Chipolopolo will host the Zebras for the return leg in Lusaka on August 3. The winner of the two-legged tie will play either Eswatini or Angola in the final qualifying round for the Cameroon 2020 CHAN competition.
Apart from an outright win any draw that involves goals in Lusaka will see the Zebras advancing to the last round of the qualifiers.