Post the Stanley Tshosane’s era, the Zebras fans have enjoyed a rather attacking football despite the team’s limited success.
Tshosane remains the only coach to take the Zebras to Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Despite his success, the former army boss was criticised for an ultra defensive approach, but the discipline in the camp was never an issue during his time in office.
After a series of poor results following the AFCON finals, the country’s most successful coach was replaced by Englishman Peter Butler in the autumn of 2014.
Butler was seen as a beacon of hope with his attacking, fearless style of football coupled with the introduction of young players in the then weary Zebras team. Butler, however, did not qualify for any major tournament but took the Zebras to their first COSAFA final in 2016, where they lost to neighbours South Africa.
Following a series of bust ups with the bosses at Lekidi Football Centre, Butler left and was eventually replaced by local coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, last year. Like his predecessor Mpote, played free flowing football while a number of new faces were introduced to the team.
Mpote, also took the Zebras to the COSAFA final last winter, but lost out to Zambia. Although he enjoyed some success in his short reign, Mpote was not considered for the job on a permanent basis.
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) then roped in Belgian, Adel Amrouche on a three-year contract. The 51-year-old was thrown into the deep end just a week following his appointment as he led the Zebras in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Malawi.
The Zebras lost the two-legged tie 1-0 on aggregate, with fans still eager to see the new coach’s style of play.
An Independence Cup tie against Liberia was the perfect opportunity for the coach to lay bare his preferred style.
Amrouche introduced a number of new faces including youthful full backs, Lone Taele of Gilport Lions and Township Rollers’ Onkarabile Ratanang who received their first call-ups.
The Zebras played to a dull draw against Butler’s Liberia.
The team went on to lose 1-0 away to Egypt in a friendly match last month, where the players spent most of the time behind the ball, defending. In his fifth game in charge, Amrouche’s Zebras were in yet another dull draw against Zimbabwe in the first of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
On a damp Monday night at the National Stadium, the Zebras welcomed the reigning African champions, Algeria.
On the back of a 17-game unbeaten streak, the Foxes presented Amrouche with his toughest assignment thus far and provided the tactician a perfect opportunity to showcase his style of play in front of the home crowd.
Three defensive players in the line up against the Foxes showed the coach’s intentions.
Defenders, Kaelo Kgaswane and Mosha Gaolaolwe were deployed in the midfield while ball players, Mothusi Cooper, Thatayaone Kgamanyane and Mogakolodi Ngele started on the bench. Tumisang Orebonye remained isolated on the front while being supported by wingers Kabelo Seakanyeng and Tlhalefo Molebatsi. The intentions were clear, to defend and catch the opposition on a counter.
The plan faltered just after 14 minutes in the game, as the visitors took the lead, direct from the corner kick. Amrouche tried to open up the play as he swapped Kgaswane for Ngele with 23 minutes of the game played. The team failed to make clear-cut chances as they failed to fire shots on target.
The team, however, managed to thwart a potentially embarrassing score line as the visitors had only two shots on target.
There is a certain sense of aggression in the new Zebras and passion for the game is also undoubted. The team looks ready to fight but still remain winless under the Belgian. The team’s display evokes memories of Stan’s Zebras.
The Zebras under Tshosane played one of the most unattractive football, but had the sweetest success.
With Amrouche, the Zebras will have to find their scoring boots first to reach the same feat. In six games, the team has not scored but managed to shut the back door with just three goals, with two of those coming from set pieces.
The squad is much younger now; three caps have been won thus far under the new gaffer. Amrouche’s next assignment is the COSAFA Cup next year and then against Zambia in August 2020 in AFCON qualifiers.