In just two weeks, the women’s national team, nicknamed ‘Mares’ will begin their demanding journey in their bid to book a maiden Olympic Games berth.
With the continent allocated just 1.5 slots at the 2020 Tokyo games, the Mares will begin the first of the five rounds of qualification against Namibia on April 5, 2019 at the National Stadium with the away leg to be played four days later at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
The team’s coach, Gaoletlhoo ‘Ronaldo’ Nkutlwisang is waiting for the arrival foreign-based duo of goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija and striker Thuto Ramafifi who are based in South Africa and the USA respectively as she prepares to name her final 23-member squad on Wednesday.
“We have been in camp for two weeks now. I had invited 26 players, but 24 showed up. I had reserved spaces for our foreign-based players and I hope they will be with us in the coming week as we start our final preparations.
We are aware that they might join us late due to travel complications, but I hope the mother body (Botswana Football Association) is doing everything it can to make sure that the payers would be with us,” Ronaldo told Mmegi Sport this week.
US-based Ramafifi would be joining the team after almost a year’s absence. She missed the COSAFA Championships in September last year due to club commitments. The 27-year-old moved to Salem University in August and became a key squad member, contributing 37 goals in just 17 games. She scored 26 and assisted a further 11 making an impressive average of 1.53 goals per game. Bosija on the other hand has been the Zebras number one since the age of 17. The Bloemfontein Celtic shot stopper was voted the goalkeeper of the tournament in her maiden season with Siwelele ladies in 2017.
The Zebras’ technical team have in the past decried lack of support from the BFA but the chief executive officer, Mfolo Mfolo has assured that the team will be afforded all the support it needs prior to the game.
“We will make sure that our women’s team is ready for the game. The coach will submit her plan and we will help her to secure international friendly matches. We will do all this looking at her plan,” Mfolo said at a recent press conference.
Nkutlwisang said she is rebuilding the team and has high hopes of going past the first round. However, she is worried by the lack of fitness in the team due to lack of competitiveness in the regional women’s football leagues.
“It was a tough assignment to select the team, it is going to be tougher to select the final squad. We want to have quality 23 players for the game. I am happy how the players are responding though; we have a mixture of regulars and new players. You cannot question their passion and commitment, but I am worried about their level of fitness, it is low; not yet at competitive match level,” she said.