By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone - The Zebras won the ‘Battle of the Neighbours’, as they edged Namibia’s Brave Warriors 1-0 before a poor crowd at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Teenage Orebonye turned home Segolame Boy’s pint-point cross as early as the fourth minute, and that goal separated the two sides at fulltime.
Botswana finished with 10 men after midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele saw red later in the game, but David Bright’s side held on to claim the Independence Day trophy.
The match was played to mark Botswana’s 52nd Independence Day celebrations.
The game was competitive but lacked the incisive edge as both sides, appeared languid at times. Ricardo Mannetti’s boys threatened early into the game and had an effort cleared off the line in the 15th minute although the assistant referee had already flagged for offside. The Zebras did not sit back and invite pressure, instead, Ditsele was narrowly wide in the 33rd minute.
At the other end, Absalom Limbondi, a constant menace, saw his effort saved by Zebras goalkeeper, Keagile Kgosipula.
Namibia had a late penalty appeal turned away as Limbondi was clipped in the box. The visitors piled the necessary pressure in the second half but goals proved elusive.
However, the hosts resisted the late onslaught to keep the trophy at home, after beating Angola 3-0 in last year’s edition.
Mannetti said the result was not a priority, as he prepares his side for crucial back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifier clashes against Mozambique next week.
He deplored the state of the National Stadium pitch, which he said, hindered play.
“In most areas, it was practically unplayable,” he said of the pitch, which had taken a pounding due to the celebrations earlier before kick-off.
Mannetti said they began the match slowly, but was pleased with the second half response, where his side put Botswana under considerable pressure.
Botswana coach, David Bright was happy with the outcome ahead of a tough trip to face Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Bright experimented on the wings but is expected to retain most of the players when they travel to Ouagadougou for the October 13 clash. The two meet in the reverse fixture three days later at the Francistown Sports Complex.
Both Botswana and Namibia anchor their respective groups, with two rounds of matches played. However, the Brave Warriors are one point better, as the Zebras are still pointless after two matches.