Southern African teams start battle for Chan berths

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Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone - Botswana and eSwatini will look to put the disappointment of a barren Africa Cup of Nations qualifier behind, when they kick-start their Africa Nations Championship campaign this weekend.

Botswana and eSwatini finished as the only two southern African sides without a victory at the 2019 Afcon qualifiers, which concluded last month.

But the two get an opportunity to save face as the 2020 Chan qualifiers for the southern region kick-off. The tournament is for locally based players only.

The Cosafa region has been allocated three slots, meaning the 14 teams will battle for the available berths.

CAF split the countries according to their regions, with the North, West, Central and Southern playing in their respective regions.

Botswana’s Zebras and Seychelles get the ball rolling with a tie in Lobatse, 75km from the capital, Gaborone, on Saturday.

The Zebras will play their second game under caretaker coach, Mogomotsi Mpote, who replaced David Bright last month.

Mpote lost his first game in charge, a 1-0 loss to Angola in the final round of the Afcon qualifiers in March. The local coach has called up a squad mostly drawn from the top two leading Premier League sides, Township Rollers and Jwaneng Galaxy.

The two teams contribute 13 of the 23 players in camp preparing for the Seychelles tie.

Eswatini’s Sihlangu Semnikati, host Malawi at the Somhlolo Stadium on Saturday.

The other southern African teams will join the qualifiers in the next round after receiving a first-round bye.

In the second round in July, the winner between Botswana and Seychelles face Zambia, while the side that emerges victorious between Malawi and Swaziland, plays Angola.

Comoros will face Namibia, Madagascar are up against Mozambique, while Lesotho’s Likuena and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana square up, and Zimbabwe play Mauritius.

The winners of the second-round clashes face each other in September in the third and final round.

The three sides that come through will qualify for next year’s tournament, which Ethiopia hosts next year.

The Botswana squad:

Goalkeepers: Keagile Kgosipula (Township Rollers), Ezekiel Morake (Jwaneng Galaxy), Tumiso Mashakola (BDF XI)

Defenders: Thatayaone Ditlhokwe (Township Rollers), Thato Kebue (Jwaneng Galaxy), Fortunate Thulare (Jwaneng Galaxy), Thabo Leinanyane (Jwaneng Galaxy), Mothusi Johnson (Orapa United), Alford Velaphi (Gaborone United), Thato Seagateng (Notwane)

Midfielders: Segolame Boy (Township Rollers), Gape Mohutsiwa (Township Rollers), Lebogang Ditsele (Jwaneng Galaxy), Thero Setsile (Jwaneng Galaxy), Gilbert Baruti (Jwaneng Galaxy), Gofaone Mabaya (Orapa United), Allen Ndodole (Sharps Shooting Stars), Tlhalefo Molebatsi (Notwane)

Strikers: Joel Mogorosi (Township Rollers), Tumisang Orebonye (Township Rollers), Kitso Mpuisang (Prisons XI), Thatayaone Kgamanyane (Gaborone United)

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