The Botswana senior women’s national team, affectionately known as ‘The Mares’ on Tuesday (today) reported for camp where it aims to harness its skills prior to the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship slated for Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, from September 28-October 9.
The 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship gives the region’s top female footballers the chance to add their names to the rich history of the showpiece competition.
The COSAFA Women’s Championship is a chance to showcase the incredible talent in the Southern African region by providing players with the platform to display their skills and perhaps move on to bigger things.
The team reported for camp on Tuesday as they continue their preparations for the upcoming tournament, which they started preparing for earlier in the year when they played a friendly match with the neighbouring Banyana-Banyana of South Africa.
Head coach, Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang has called into camp a team that has a balance of youth and experience. Being the 2019 Silver medallists, Botswana has been draw in Group B along side guest nation South Sudan, Tanzania and neighbours, Zimbabwe.
“We are on the final lap of our preparations. As you’d imagine we have a hectic 10 weeks ahead of us. We will prepare for the Cosafa championships with an eye on the AFCON qualifiers later in October. However, our focus for this month and October will be Cosafa. We did well in the last edition but that is now history, and we must now work on ensuring that we do better this year,” said Nkultwisang adding that, “We have players coming back from the recent Cosafa club competition and we are hopeful that their experience will add the much-needed verve and positive vibes to the team. To put the cherry on top, we are also expecting international players to join the team soon and boost the squad. The focus is in getting our team ready, in shape and on form. Our biggest quest is to fight with everything we have,” The Mares coach added.
Botswana will be seeking to build on their maiden appearance in final of the COSAFA Women’s Championship last year, where they made it through to the decider from a three-team first round pool with a pair of 1-0 wins over Tanzania and Zimbabwe, before edging Zambia in a close semi-final.
That set up a decider against South Africa, but it was Banyana Banyana who triumphed 2-1 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. It was still The Mares’ best finish in the COSAFA Women’s Championship and an excellent tournament overall.
They also made it through to the last four in 2019 but lost 4-0 to eventual runners-up Zambia. They went through the pool stages unbeaten though, defeating Namibia (1-0) and Mauritius (3-0), before playing to a 0-0 draw with Zambia.
They then lost the bronze-medal match, going down 3-0 to Zimbabwe. But it is a vast improvement on past showings after they did not win a match in their opening three visits to the finals in 2002, 2008 and 2011.
They broke that duck in 2017 with a 3-0 success over Lesotho. They also managed draw against eventual champions South Africa, but it was not enough to advance from their pool as they finished second.
In 2018 they opened with a 2-0 win over Malawi, lost 1-0 to South Africa and drew 0-0 with Madagascar to finish runners-up in their pool.
Their very first match in the regional showpiece competition in 2002 ended in a 14-0 loss to South Africa. That opening defeat was in fact the very first fixture of the national team, who are now celebrating 16 years of playing at international level.
The country has not yet qualified for a major championship, having entered the preliminaries for the last three FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, and for the African Women’s Championship since 2008. Botswana will face Angola in the preliminaries for the 2022 continental finals.
Goalkeepers: Bame Mokime (Double Action), Gloria Moeng (BDF), Merilyn John (BDF), Tlamelo Pheresi (Double Action)
Defenders: Theo George (Wonder Girls), Goitsemang Tlama (Township Rollers), Thapelo Moshe (UB Kicks), Kesegofetse Mochawe (Prisons), Masego Montsho (BDF), Selebatso Golebaone (Prisons), Amogelang Moahi (Geronah), Annah Sechane (Township Rollers), Nancy Baeletsi (Prisons), Bonang Othlagile (Double Action), Patricia Motingwa (Collabo), Veronica Mogotsi (Double Action), Leungo Senwelo (Double Action), Balothanyi Johannes (Double Action), Lone Gaofetoge (Lusaka Dynamos)
Midfielders: Segakolodi Didukunyane (Mexican), Lesego Keleboge (Prisons),, Mokgabo Thanda (Yasa), Masego Mfandiso (Double Action), Pineng Lesego (Double Action), Laone Moloi (Double Action)
Forwards: Atang Busang (Prisons), Refilwe Tholakele (Township Rollers), Warona Molete (Lusaka Dynamos), Lesego Radiakanyo (Double Action), Ontlametse Gaonyadiwe (Geronah), Lekgoa Lorato (Untouchable FC)
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