The national women’s football team, the Mares is looking for a maiden victory against South Africa in the first leg of the second round of the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers to be played at the National Stadium at 7pm today.
The Mares set up the mouthwatering encounter after eliminating Namibia in the first round of the qualifiers after a 3-2 aggregate win.
They now have a mammoth task against the reigning queens of the COSAFA regions. The team has a depressing record against Banyana Banyana after failing to record a win in the fixture’s history.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Mares assistant coach, Alex Malete said his side is ready to climb Mount Everest and remains confident in his troops despite a poor record turn out against Banyana.
Since 2014 in the seven matches the Mares have had against Banyana, they have won only once while losing the rest. In the process, Mares scored once while conceding 22 times.
“We had good training in Slovakia, the technical team had enough time to access the players without any disturbances, and we tried a lot of combinations. The preparations are done at the moment; we are just ready to get on the field,” said Malete.
“We are playing a team that we have played many times. We have long started to prepare, we assessed our opponents at the World Cup, (and) the COSAFA Cup. We also assessed our previous games against them. So, I believe we are at a stage where we can do better than our previous games against them.”
Botswana will miss lethal striker, Thuto Ramafifi due to school commitments. The US-based striker contributed 37 goals in just 17 games for Salem University in the last season.
“Ramafifi was not selected in the squad because of school commitments. She recently transferred to a new university. Unlike her previous school, they refused to give her leave from school.
She is an important member of the team, but we had to let her focus on her school commitments. We will have to do the battle with the players that are available.”
Banyana Banyana arrived in the country late Wednesday afternoon without 2018 African Women’s Player of the Year, Thembi Kgatlana and captain Janine van Wyk, who are nursing injuries.
The team’s coach, Desiree Ellis has called up overseas-based players Leandra Smeda, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Nothando Vilakazi and Rhoda Mulaudzi, who all missed the recent COSAFA Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth due to club commitments.
“We have to maximise all the time we have as we have only been in camp for two days now, and we needed to allow the players as much time to acclimatise as possible because it is extremely hot in Gaborone, especially for this time of the year,” Ellis said, as quoted by SAFA.net. The return leg will be played on September 3 at Orlando Stadium in South Africa.
Goalkeepers: Sedilame Bosija (Celtic, SA) Refiloe Tshambani (Prisons XI)
Defenders: Kesegofetse Mochawe (Rollers), Veronica Mogotsi (Double Action), Masego Montsho (BDF XI), Nancy Baeletsi (Prisons XI), Lone Gaofetoge (Geronah), Boitumelo Gammu, Bonang Otlhagile (both Double Action)
Midfielders: Leano Busang (Prisons XI), Balotlhanyi Johannes (Double Action), Lesego Keleboge, Golebaone Selebatso (both Prison XI), Goitseone Tlamma (Geronah), Esalenna Galekhutle (Mexican Girls)
Attackers: Thando Mokgabo (Waya Lusaka, Zambia), Lesego Radiakanyo (Double Action), Bame Ngenda, Nondi Mahlasela (both Prisons XI), Refilwe Tholakele (Rollers), Masego Nfandiso (Geronah)