Zebras strong enough to qualify for AFCON - Mpote


FRANCISTOWN: Zebras interim coach, Mogomotsi Mpote believes he has assembled a strong team capable of qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as well as advancing to the group stages of the World Cup qualifiers.

Mpote was speaking to Mmegi Sport just days after the Zebras suffered a 3-2 defeat to Zambia in a 2019 CHAN qualifier played in Lusaka. Mpote is expected to step down from his role as interim coach soon.

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) will unveil a foreign coach as his replacement, but the Orapa United coach will remain as an assistant coach.

“I took a brave decision to introduce young players in the national team when I took over. They have done very well and everyone can see that. Players like Cooper have been very outstanding. The exposure I have given them has readied them for the gruelling 2021 AFCON qualifiers.”

“I believe also the players have adjusted well and quickly in the national team environment. I have no doubt that the current crop of players will qualify for the AFCON if they are kept together, although it will not be easy. The coach who will take over will take a team that has a strong foundation,” he said. 

Botswana is in Group H with holders Algeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia. 

“As for the 2022 World Cup, I think we have a realistic chance of making the group stages. To qualify for the AFCON and the World Cup is not easy owing to various dynamics,” said Mpote.

 Mpote added that he expects the Zebras to dominate Malawi in the preliminary round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in September. The winner of the clash will form part of the 40 African teams that will be divided into 10 groups of four for the second qualifying round.

Meanwhile, Mpote hailed goalkeeper Lesenya Malapela who was handed a debut against Zambia after first choice goalkeeper Keagile Kgosipula went AWOL.

“He was superb. He made very crucial saves. He made a few mistakes. I predict a very bright future for him.”

 “Mbatshi Elias also made his full debut in Lusaka. I told the two players to enjoy the game and be mentally strong. Elias was also marvellous and made basic mistakes. The most important thing for them is to be focussed and grounded. They have a brighter future in the national team.”

Elias came in late in the second half of the first leg match against Zambia, which was played at the Francistown Sports Complex.

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