National Under-17 coach, Tebogo Mokute is adamant that despite the threat posed by their group at the COSAFA tournament, the team can be counted amongst the best in the end.
The team left yesterday for the COSAFA Under-17 tournament, which will take place in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Botswana has been drawn in the same group with regional powerhouses, Zambia, Malawi and Comoros. The tournament will also be used as the qualifiers for the Africa Youth Championships, which is the Under-17 side’s equivalent of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, Mokute said both Malawi and Zambia are well known for their strong development structures and play almost the same type of football while Comoros have several players plying their trade in Europe. He also said the situation however does not demoralise his side and added they will do all they can to make the country proud.
The team has been in camp for two weeks in preparation for the tournament. However, Mokute stated that the building of the team kicked off last year consisting of players who were mostly born in 2004. At the time they were 15 years old and the cream of the team has been picked from Botswana Games as well as Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA).
“On normal circumstances, two weeks is a very short time to make enough preparations but we cannot fold our arms. We have tried to do the physical and technical training during
Yesterday, Mokute and his technical team left with 17 players to Port Elizabeth while three remained behind because of school commitments. He said goalkeeper, Menson Busang, left wing back, Ontlametse Selebogo and midfielder, Omphile Ramoagi are writing examinations and will leave on Thursday to join their teammates in South Africa.
He said he is happy that the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has made special arrangement for the three players. He also said he is hopeful that the three players will be ready to join their teammates for the first match on Friday against Malawi. “If not, they will be ready for the next two group matches,” he said.
The last time the national Under-17 team took part in the Africa Youth Championship was in 2013 in Morocco. The team has already played practice matches against Matebejana and national Under-20 side.
The final squad:
Goalkeepers: Busang, Lefika Ngwako, Bakang Boima
Defenders: Thabo Bakwena, Levi Monageng, Kutlo Kgetheng, Selebego, Thuto Bafeletse, Mompati Tshoganetso, Kagiso Masankela
Midfielders: Thompho Mokganedi, Monty Enosa, Maatla Ramogalana, Ramoagi, Kgotso Radithogwa, Kenny Itshepeng, Tlotlo Kgaolo
Strikers: Kgotso Tlhowe, Obakeng Mazongo, Koketso Mwampole