Mpote eager to sign-off with a win

The Zebras face the Copper Bullets PIC: COSAFA
The Zebras face the Copper Bullets PIC: COSAFA

FRANCISTOWN: Zebras caretaker coach, Teenage Mpote will be eager to bow out on a high note when he takes charge of what will probably be his final game when his charges play Zambia’s Chipolopolo in Francistown tonight.

The two meet in the first leg of the African Nations Championships qualifier.  Belgian, Adel Amrouche is expected to be announced as the substantive coach soon, with Mpote set to assume the role of assistant coach.

The former Algerian national team coach arrived in the country this week for talks with the Botswana Football Association.

 Both teams have named the bulk of the players who did duty at the 2019 COSAFA Cup.  Zambia released the final list of players who will feature for today’s match early this week.

The two sides will be meeting for the second time after their COSAFA Cup final showdown, which Chipolopolo won 1-0.

Zebras are likely to play an offensive game with Mpote having emphasised that the first round match is a must win since his troops will not have it easy in Zambia next weekend.

Although he will draw solace from the fact that the Zebras have shown much improvement in recent years, Mpote might be wary of the Zebras’ poor record against Chipolopolo.

Prior to the COSAFA final, the two teams met during the CHAN qualifiers in 2013. Zambia triumphed in both legs winning 1-0 away and 3-0 in Lusaka to advance to the final qualifying round.

This week Mpote told Mmegi Sport that his team is fully ready for the Zambia clash.

“In terms of preparations, I can’t complain. We played two friendly games against Lesotho in Gaborone before departing for Francistown. The games were very intense and good for our preparations against a strong side like Zambia,” a confident Mpote said.

“I have got no doubt that as a result of the intense preparations, the team will fare well on Friday,” he added.

Against Lesotho, Zebras drew the first match 2-2 while the second ended 1-1. Township Rollers talisman, Segolame Boy is likely to play a key role in today’s match. Boy was instrumental against Seychelles in both ties of the preliminary round encounter.

He also made a telling contribution at the COSAFA Cup.

He scored in both legs as Botswana blitzed past Seychelles 5-1 on aggregate. Mpote said that only Mothusi Johnson has picked a minor knock “but will definitely be available for the match”.

 Zambian assistant coach, Numba Mumamba this week, acknowledged that Botswana has improved a lot in the last few years, when he spoke to the media in his native country. 

He added that Zambia would approach today’s match with the aim of emerging victorious.

“Botswana has improved in the recent past, they are not a team to underrate. We have to prepare adequately so that when we go there we get a win and reduce the pressure as we come back home for the return leg. The team that we have can beat Botswana,” he said.

Zambia will pin their hopes on star striker, Tapson Kaseba who scored the only goal of the game as Zambia beat Botswana to be crowned COSAFA Cup champions.

Another player who might also play a key role for Chipolopolo in today’s clash is experienced goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange who was voted the goalkeeper of the tournament at the COSAFA Cup.

Both nations will be weakened after losing players to teams abroad. CHAN is reserved for players in domestic leagues.

Zambia will host the Zebras for the return leg in Lusaka on August 3, 2019. The winner of the two-legged tie will play either eSwatini or Angola in the final qualifying round for the Cameroon 2020 CHAN competition.

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