Zebras break duck, Isihlangu sing the blues

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Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone - The Botswana national team finally remembered how to win after 10 months of agony, when they registered a 2-0 victory over Seychelles in the first leg of the African Nations Championships on Saturday.

The Zebras’ last win in a competitive match last came in June 2018, when they beat Eswatini's Isihlangu 2-0 in a Cosafa Cup match.

From then, a seven-game winless run ensued and was only halted by two second half goals from Thatayaone Ditlhokwe and Segolame Boy before a sparse crowd at the Lobatse Sports Complex, 75 kilometres outside the capital Gaborone.

While the Zebras enjoyed a rare win, Isihlangu continued to sing the blues after firing blanks in a 0-0 stalemate against Malawi in another CHAN qualifier at the King Sobhuza Stadium.

Isihlangu, like the Zebras, completed the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers without a win.

Eswatini now face a tough return leg in Malawi on May 10, while the Zebras will travel to Seychelles breathing much easier.

Botswana interim coach, Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote was impressed with his charges’ display, after a pragmatic performance.

“We played the way we were supposed to. We should give these young boys a chance. We need to build a solid team which will compete with the best. In terms of development, the CHAN tournament will help us to improve.

“We will go to Seychelles, and as long as we do the right things, we are home and dry,” Mpote said after the match.

The Zebras did not have to break a sweat against a placid Seychelles side, ranked 190th in the FIFA rankings.

The local side did most of the attacking, with the visitors throwing the majority of the bodies behind the ball.

It was a system that worked for Seychelles in the first half, but the plan crumbled under the weight of incessant Zebras attacks in the second stanza.

Ditlhokwe bundled home, before Boy’s low finish calmed the nerves ahead of the return leg.

The four southern African countries, Malawi, Eswatini, Botswana and Seychelles, were the first to get the 2020 CHAN qualifiers underway, with the rest of the countries joining in July.

Cameroon will host next year’s tournament, after Ethiopia were stripped off the organising rights, as they were deemed less prepared.

Morocco are the defending champions of a tournament meant exclusively for local players in their respective domestic leagues.

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