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The Mares make history

Woman Nation Football Team

The Senior Women National Football Team survived a late Zimbabwe onslaught to qualify for their maiden Women Africa Cup of Nations finals. The qualification by The Mares occurs 10 years after a similar feat by their male counterparts.

The match which was played on Wednesday evening at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium, saw Zimbabwe defeat Botswana 2-0, but the locals eventually scrapped through on away goal rule, having won 3-1 in Harare last week Friday.

Qualification by The Mares to the continental showpiece of Women Africa Cup of Nations, means Botswana joins their COSAFA rivals South Africa and Zambia.

Banyana Banyana booked their place following 1-1 draw with Algeria in the second leg of their qualifier in Algiers, advancing on 3-1 aggregate.

Copper Queens of Zambia on the other hand sealed their qualification on away goal following 1-1 draw against Namibia. The two nations played to a goalless draw in previous encounter.

In the crucial encounter that determined the qualification for Women Africa Cup of Nation, the Botswana defeated the Mighty Warriors of Zimbabwe 3-1.

Lesego Radiakanyo’s brace and another goal from Refilwe Tholakele was enough to give the Mares the much important away victory and set one foot into the biggest continental showpiece for women’s football.

Gaolethoo ‘Ronaldo’ Nkutlwisang who is the head coach together with his technical team wrote their name in history books as they became first coach (Nkutlwisang) and technical team to take the team to its first Women Africa Cup of Nation which is scheduled to take place in Morocco this year in July.

Coach Nkutlwisang, despite not having been offered a fulltime contract by BFA has matched a success only equal to the one achieved by another local coach, Stanley Tshosane who took the men’s senior national team, the Zebras to its first ever Africa Cup of Nations finals at Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in 2012.

When speaking at dinner in honor of the team performance, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare said qualifications by The Mares to the continental showpiece suggests that there is immense talent and resilience owing to the challenging conditions which sports continues to endure.

Rakgare further said women football in Botswana is developing at much faster rate as it has taken a lesser time to qualify for Women Africa Cup of Nation as compared to their male counterparts.

Minister Rakgare said they have rewarded 21 players incentive of P20 000 each for the historic qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations finals, with coach Nkutlwisang set to receive P15 000 while the assistant will get P12,500 and the rest of the technical team walking away with P10 000 each, thus making it P557 500.

This is in addition to the P11, 000 each player will pocket from the Lucara Diamond Company sponsorship, after the mining company availed P300 000 sponsorship as a way of encouraging the team and serve as a morale boaster ahead of the Zimbabwe game.

Meanwhile the 12 teams who have qualified for the 2022 Women African Cup Nations are Morocco who are the hosts, debutants Burundi, Togo, Burkina Faso and Botswana, powerhouses being Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa and Senegal, as well as Uganda, Zambia and Tunisia.

According to CAF, the semifinalist for the tournament will advance automatically to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, with another two to enter the continental play-offs.

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