By NAMUTENGA SAKAPILA
Botswana coach Rapelang Tsatsilebe has named his provisional squad for the 2018 Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships slated for Kitwe, Zambia from December 2 to 14.
Tsatsilebe has retained majority of the players that featured in the African Under-20 Championship qualifiers earlier this year, though some have been promoted to Under-23 side that is in camp preparing for the 2020 Olympics Games qualifiers.
The coach said he is concerned about his preparations, citing the ongoing final school examinations as a hindrance, leaving him without several players at the start of camp. Botswana have found this competition a challenge in the recent past, but Tsatsilebe hopes they will proceed to the knockout stages in 2018.
“Last year we did not take part but this time around we are going out there to compete, not just to add numbers. The squad will be trimmed to 20 final boys in their last camp before departing to Zambia,” Tsatsilebe said.
The former Botswana National team player also said he is comfortable with the teams that he had been drawn against in Group C, namely Zimbabwe, Angola and Lesotho.
Botswana will play their first game on December 3 against Zimbabwe, who will arguably be the team to beat in the pool. Only the top sides in each of the three groups and the best-placed runner-up advance to the semi-finals.
Botswana’s best finishes in this competition came in 2009 and 2011 when they managed third place. First, they beat Madagascar 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the bronze-medal play-off in 2009. The Young Zebras had made it through their pool but lost 3-0 to South Africa in the semifinals.
They then hosted in 2011 and this time lost to Zambia in the semifinals before beating Malawi to bronze.
Their last appearance came in 2016 when the side lost all three of their pool games without scoring a goal.
Botswana provisional squad:
Goalkeepers: Ryan Brown (Prisons), Maikano Tladinyane (Hungry Leopards), Itumeleng Mangope, Thabo Motswagole (BDF XI)
Defenders: Harvey Matema (Hungry Leopards), Benson Mosokobanji (Amakhosi), Butho Ndlizyo (UB Hawks), Lolo Mangope (Sharps Shooting Stars), Tlamelo Kolagano (Top Stars ), Botsile Sakana (Mogobane United), Thapelo Selemogwe (Mogobane United)
Midfielders: Obakeng Senono (Hungry Leopards), Aobakwe George (FC Palapye), Onalethata Moeletsi (Home Sweepers), Bose Ramontsho (Tafic), Tumelo Meshack (Sharps Shooting Stars), Gape Thibedi (Mogoditshane Fighters), Boisi Seelepo (Hungry Leopards), Thabang Radikara (Mogobane United), Tlhago Ratshukudu (Just for Keepers Academy), Tshiamo Gabaitse (Gaborone United)
Strikers: Lesika Rakoma (Ledumang), Aobakwe Pillar (City Pollar), Kaone Bogosi (Orapa United), Moabi Motlhaetsi (Hungry Leopards)
This is contained in a media statement Lynda Griff from the COSAFA media office.