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Diamond Zebras to give valiant try at COSAFA

KABELO BORANABI
Aiming for the top: The Under-17 side will be under pressure to emulate their senior counterparts PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Following a series of improving performances for national teams at the COSAFA tournament, it is now time for the Under-17 boys team, the Diamond Zebras to make their mark.

The Diamond Zebras are in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for the COSAFA Under-17 Championship. The team will be eyeing to surpass trailblazing achievements set by the senior teams.

In 2017, the Zebras then led by Englishman Peter Butler reached the country’s maiden regional competition final at COSAFA Senior Championship held in Namibia.

The Zebras, however, lost 3-2 to neighbours, South Africa. Led by Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote, the team reached the final in 2019, but once again failed to lift the title this time going down 1-0 to Zambia.

The Mares, last week reached the final of the competition for the first time in history, but despite a brave fight they, like their male counterparts lost to South Africa.

The Diamond Zebras will be hoping to replicate the Mares in the city the latter has made history in. The team is in Group B where they will kick-start their campaign against Malawi today at 12:30pm before taking on Comoros two days later.

The team will complete the group stage matches against neighbours Zambia next Wednesday with kick off scheduled at 3:30pm.

Addressing journalists prior to the team’s departure, coach Tebogo

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Mokute despite having limited preparation time has remained optimistic.  “Under normal circumstances, two weeks is a very short time to make enough preparation, but we cannot fold our arms. We have tried to do the physical and technical training during that time. I can say my players are at the level of 70% fitness but I have tried to work more on the technical aspect which should work well for us,” he said.

Mokute will be aiming to reach the knockout stage of the competition a feat the Diamond Zebras have never reached in recent years. The team is also presented with an opportunity of reaching the finals of the 2021 Africa Under-17 Nations Cup to be held in Morocco.

Mokute’s troops would have to reach the final of the COSFA Champions to book a place at the continental showpiece to be held in March 2021.

Diamond Zebras are the last team to qualify at the continental competition in 2013, which was the country’s maiden appearance at the tournament. It was the year after the Zebras played for the first at the AFCON finals.



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