Gaborone – Zebras coach, David Bright will name a squad of locally based players for next Wednesday’s friendly match against Zimbabwe in Harare, to mark the neighbouring country’s 38th independence anniversary.
With the game falling outside the FIFA international date, Bright is forced to take locally based players for the Harare trip.
The team, which laboured to beat Lesotho 1-0 a fortnight ago, is expected to do duty against Zimbabwe.
“I will not be calling any players based abroad due to a congested domestic programme. It is an important match between the two countries.
The majority of the players who featured against Lesotho will travel to Harare,” Bright said.
He will travel with 18 players, and there is no time for the team to train as the Botswana Premier League attempts to sew up its league program.
There are eight games left in the season, with just a month before the 2017/2018 campaign concludes.The friendly match will not interfere with Botswana’s domestic league, as the players fly back immediately after the tie, in time for the weekend fixtures.
With little time for preparations, Bright said the Zebras will fly out on Tuesday, and play the Independence Day match on Wednesday. It will be the first time in nearly five years that the two countries engage in a friendly match in Zimbabwe.
The last played at Rufaro Stadium in 2013 saw the Warriors edge the Zebras 2-1 through Khama Billiat and Denver Mukamba’s goals. The Zebras found the opener through winger Lemponye Tshireletso in what was Warriors coach, Klause Dieter Pagels’ debut.
Botswana have always found the going tough against Zimbabwe and next week’s meeting will be the 14th since 1980. Zimbabwe have won nine of those meetings, with two victories going to Botswana while the other two matches ended in a stalemate. The Warriors are ranked 108 in the latest FIFA rankings, while the Zebras have plummeted to 149.
There has been increased interaction between Zimbabwe and Botswana of late, and it came as no surprise when the Zebras received an invitation to play the Warriors.