Gaborone - Botswana senior women’s national soccer team, the Mares, beat their archrival, South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, at the Orlando Stadium this week to keep their maiden dream of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier.
With the latest victory against South Africa, which is one of the power houses on the continent, having recently participated in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Botswana will now face Zambia and is on the verge of booking their place at Olympic Games.
The Mares beat Banyana Banyana 3-2 on penalties, with the two legged ties failing to produce a goal. This was the first time that Botswana has beaten Banyana Banyana in nine meetings. The two sides went into the second leg which was played on Tuesday 3 September level on 0-0 aggregate after the first leg which was played on 30 August in Botswana.
Commenting on her team’s performance, the women's national team coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutusang commended her players for their determination and commitment.
“Our win against Banyana Banyana is an achievement because Banyana Banyana, which are by far a power house in the continent have been a stumbling block as they had prevented us to reach this stage of the qualifier games,” she said.
Against Zambia, she said, they intended to beef up the defence and make preparations in advance.
For her part, Botswana senior women national team’s captain Bonang Otlhagile said she was hopeful and confident ahead of the upcoming Olympic qualifier game against Zambia.
“I think we will put up a spirited fight against Zambia and overcome them because as we speak morale is very high and we are prepared,” she said.
She added that a fierce battle is expected when they lock horns with their Zambian counterparts because the latter was also not a walk in the park.
Local sport journalist, Mqondisi Dube, also showered the team with praises and commended the BFA for ensuring that the team prepares for the qualifier games on time.
“The BFA should be commended for sacrificing the COSAFA Cup and, instead, sending the women's team to Slovakia for a training camp. This has borne immediate fruit, after the team kicked Banyana Banyana out of the Olympic Games qualifiers,” said Dube.
“Banyana Banyana are a strong side and were at the World Cup this year. The eggs can be put in this one basket. The future looks secure.”
Botswana senior men soccer team captain Joel Mogorosi said, “With good preparations, I think it is possible... thanks to BFA for the efforts they did by taking the ladies football to camp in Europe and abandoned COSAFA...well done ladies team for the great work.”
Botswana will take on Zambia in the third round of the 2020 Olympics qualifier on a home and away tie with the winners advancing to the fourth round.
Zambia advanced to the next round after beating Zimbabwe 5-0 in the first leg in Lusaka and Zimbabwe failing to honour the second leg at home.