The Zebras left for Eritrea yesterday looking to emerge unscathed in the first leg of preliminary round of the 2018 World Cup qualifier. The Zebras are fresh from a 3-2 loss to Ethiopia.
The Zebras play Ethiopia on Saturday with the return leg in Francistown next week Tuesday.
The Zebras won their last competitive fixture against Burkina Faso by a solitary goal in a 2017 Africa Cup on Nations (AFCON) qualifier. The Zebras, who are ranked 121st in the FIFA rankings, will look for a positive start to what is expected to be a gruelling campaign. This would be the first meeting between the Zebras and the East Africans. Zebras coach, Peter Butler gave a number of fringe players the chance to prove themselves in the Ethiopian game, which was used as a preparatory game for the Eritrea fixture. They include Police XI anchorman, Joseph Joseph, the league top goal scorer Moatlhodi Ralesotla of Green Lovers and Miscellaneous’ Keolopile Moremi.
The ‘Red Sea Boys’ as Eritrea are affectionately known are ranked 202nd in the FIFA rankings.
They have never qualified for a major tournament with their first ever World Cup goal coming in the 2014 qualifiers when they played to a 1-1 draw with Rwanda. They lost the reverse fixture 3-1.
The Zebras were forced into the preliminary round as there were among the 26 bottom ranked teams in Africa.
The 13 winners in the preliminary rounds will then join 27 top ranked teams on the continent in the second round. The 20 winners from the second round would then be drawn into five groups of four teams with the top teams qualifying for the tournament to be hosted by Russia.
Squad to Eritrea
Mwampule Masule, Kabelo Dambe, Goitseone Phoko, Tebogo Sosome, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng,
Obonye Moswate, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Hendrick Moyo, Keolopile Molemi, Lebogang Maswena, Kaone Vanderwesthuizen, Joseph Joseph, Letlhogonolo Senwelo, Galabgwe Moyana, Kabelo Seakanyeng,
Phenyo Molefe, Segolame Boy, Lebogang Ditsele, Mogakolodi Ngele, Joel Mogorosi, Lemponye Tshirelesto, Boitumelo Mafoko, Ofentse Nato