Mares could qualify for AFCON without kicking a ball

Ball players: Mares could make it to the finals without kicking a ball PIC: BFA
Ball players: Mares could make it to the finals without kicking a ball PIC: BFA

The women’s senior team, the Mares could qualify for their maiden Women’s Africa Cup of Nations without kicking a ball as their opponents, Zimbabwe face a possible FIFA ban.

The Mares are a two-legged tie away from sealing their first-ever qualification to the continental tournament. Zimbabwe is the next opponent, but Botswana’s neighbours face a FIFA ban for the government’s interference in football matters.

FIFA does not permit political interference in the running of football matters. Zimbabwe’s Sport and Recreation Commission recently dissolved the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) board over failure to account for government funds given to the mother body for the 2019 AFCON finals. An interim ‘normalisation’ committee would be installed but Zimbabwe now faces a FIFA ban. The ban would mean national teams are not allowed to take part in FIFA and CAF sanctioned competitions.

If the sanction is meted out as expected, the Mares will make it to the AFCON finals without raising further sweat following their first-round 7-1 aggregate win over Angola. Gaolethoo ‘Ronaldo’ Nkutlwisang and her charges will eagerly follow developments next door. If the Mares make it to the AFCON finals, they will become the second group do to so after their male counterparts, the Zebras played in the 2012 finals. The Mares have a strong squad laced with internationals and it is the team’s best chance making it to the finals, with or without the Zimbabwe ban.

Morocco will host the 2022 finals between July 2 and 23, where, for the first time, the competition has been expanded from eight to 12 teams. The tournament was supposed to be held in 2020 but was cancelled over COVID-19 concerns.

Only the hosts, Morocco are assured of their place in the finals, while the 11 other remaining spots are due to be confirmed after the final round of qualifiers to be played between February 14 and 23 next year. The AFCON finals are used as a qualifier for the 2023 World Cup, with the top four teams progressing to the global showpiece while two more teams will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.

Editor's Comment
More resources needed to fight crime

The Fight Crime Gaborone Facebook page is always filled with sad complaints of hard working Batswana who were robbed at knife point at some traffic lights or at their home gates when trying to get inside.These thugs have no mercy; they do not just threaten victims, they are always ready to use knives, and sadly, they damage car windows. While this happens at different traffic lights, there are those where such incidents happen more frequently...

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