'We conceded a stupid goal'

Zebras versus the Desert Foxes PIC. PHATSIMO KAPENG
Zebras versus the Desert Foxes PIC. PHATSIMO KAPENG

The Zebras returned to the capital city for an official match after playing most of their games in Francistown, but there was no joy as the team went down 1-0 to Algeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier played at the National Stadium on Monday night.

Ranked 149th, the Zebras were always going to find the going tough against the continent's reigning champions, in a late kick-off.

Mohamed Youcef Belaili's first half strike was the difference, as the Zebras remain winless after two games in the campaign.

The Zebras allowed the visitors time on the ball while they adopted a more defensive approach. Despite lack of clear-cut chances in the early minutes, the Desert Foxes were awarded a corner kick in the 13th minute. Kabelo Dambe produced a double fist save to deny Youcef Belaili from the first attempt, but the attacker curled the second corner kick of the match to the near top corner to give his side the lead just a minute later.

The visitors came close again in the 24th minute, when Sofiane Feghouli teed up Ismail Slimali, but the striker shot wide. Foxes' keeper Adi-rais Mbolhi was untroubled for most parts of the half. The Zebras looked lively on Kabelo Seakanyeng's left wing but failed to deliver the final ball into the box. The home side had penalty appeals for a handball in the 43rd minute, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. 

Both sides could not test the two keepers in the second period. First half substitute, Mogakolodi Ngele let fly from outside in the 68th minute, but his effort went over the bar. In the closing stages of the game, Algerian striker Baghdad Bounejah failed to find the target from the edge of the box. The home side were reduced to 10 men with just six minutes to time, Gape Gaogangwe received his marching orders with his second caution of the game.

Zebras' assistant coach Caroline Braun was not entirely impressed with the local team's display on the night, but felt they matched the African champions. "We prepared the team very well, but it was a very difficult game to play. The fighting spirit was good, we are satisfied with the second half performance.  We let in a stupid goal from a corner, but besides that we played how we planned to play. It was difficult as underdogs and the weather conditions also contributed, as the ball always slid and we committed mistakes. Sometimes the referee also made a few mistakes."

"If you saw the game, we did not want to just defend, we also wanted to have a chance to attack. It was not in the match plan to concede an early goal from a very stupid corner for that matter. Of course it was well shot so there was no chance to defend this kind of corner (kick)," Braun said.


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