Upbeat women’s teams in glory hunt

Targets: Nkutlwisang will lead the senior team at the COSAFA Championships PIC: BFA
Targets: Nkutlwisang will lead the senior team at the COSAFA Championships PIC: BFA

It is a big weekend for the women's national teams as they embark on a quest for regional and international triumphs.

The senior team, the Mares will leave for Gqeberha, South Africa, tomorrow for the COSAFA Women’s Championship while the Under-20 have flown out to Angola for the first leg of the first round of the 2022 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.

The Mares will be gunning for the first ever trophy at the COSAFA Championship, which will be held from September 28 to October 9, 2021. The team is motivated by the ever-improving performances over the past years. In the last edition, the Mares made it to their first ever final as they won a silver medal at the competition. Team captain, Bonang ‘Bebeto’ Otlhagile believes that they enter the competition as the team to beat and they are up for the task. “We reached the final last year (and) by that we have put eyes on us.

Everyone is, however, saying we were lucky to go through but we are saying we deserved it. We have put ourselves in the spotlight and we now want to show that we did not make last year's final by a fluke. We are a group that is determined and very hard working. So we will be going in looking to reach the final once again and go a step further by winning the cup,” Otlhagile said during a press conference on Thursday morning. Botswana is pitted against Zimbabwe and guest nations, South Sudan and Tanzania in Group B of the competition.

The team will for the first time in seven years be without an ever-reliable goalkeeper, Sedilame ‘Tsontso’ Boseja. The 2020 COSAFA Championship goalkeeper of the tournament is out with a knee injury. “Tsontso is a big blow but the keepers who are here have raised their hands to show that they want to take the jersey. Yes, we went to every competition with her for a long time now but we will work with what we have. I must say so far so good in terms of preparations. We know the situation around COVID-19 but we have tried to work with what we have.

I would say we would have liked to play a few international friendly games, but this has not deterred us from working for the best with what we have,” the Mares’ coach Gaolethoo 'Ronaldo', Nkutlwisang said. As for the Under-20, they are in Luanda for the first leg of the World Cup qualifiers to be played tomorrow afternoon. The team recently lost 8-2 to the senior team in a friendly match. Head coach, Tapaphiwa Gaebolae said they are in Angola for a kill before they finish the job back home in a fortnight. “We will be playing against Angola but we do not know anything about them. Our focus is not them but on ourselves. We will be working on our tactics to bring the best results home.

The good thing about this squad is that most of them have graduated from the Under-17 team. I have worked with them at the Under-17 level so this is just a continuation,” Gaebolae said on Thursday. The return leg of the tie will be played at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium on October 9.

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