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.
The Botswana national boxing team recently returned from the zone 4 championship held in Mozambique. The team was led by head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi, two assistant coaches, Gibson Rauwe and Pearl Mooketsi. Two referees and judges, Gaseitsewe Ponatshego and Linda Mooketsi.
In the women’s category, Lethabo Modukanele was representing Botswana in the 48 kg division, while Phekie Bele and Sadie Kenosi were competing in the 57 kg and 60 kg categories, respectively. In the men’s category, Kobamelo Molatlhegi was representing the country in the 52 kg division, while Rajab Mahomed was competing in the under 51 kg category.George Molwantwa was competing for under 57 kg category and Treasure Moremi was competing for under 60kg category.
The boxers came home with seven medals, Modukanele came home with a gold medal, Kenosi, Rajab, Molatlhegi all came home with silver medals. While Moremi, Molwantwa and Phekie Bele all came home with bronze medals.
According to Moitshepi Nkabiti, the public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association, the team performed well and that they were hoping that Rajab would also bring home a gold medal. However, due to an eye injury, he could not participate in the finals.
He stated that, “though some people might think that how our team performed is not an achievement it is a big achievement to us. Other countries came with 19 boxers while we only came with our seven boxers, and they all came back with medals. That is something that we have to be proud of I really commend them for their performance. Having 5 players making it to the finals is really a blessing and we should not take it for granted.”
According to Nkabiti, Botswana was ranked fourth in the zone 4 championship, which was held in Mozambique. Other countries that participated in the tournament included South Africa, Zambia, Eswatini, and Seychelles. They all had a total of 19 boxers. Lesotho also had eight boxers.
The first Mascom Charity Cup spectacular has come and gone. The football event played at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium saw four football clubs playing one-day tourney with various charity centres being beneficiaries of the gate takings.
While the attendance was not at the expected level, it is said that the sponsor has made a killing with close to P500 000 made from voting lines. Football followers were asked to vote for teams of their choice, and top four clubs were eligible to play. A single sms voting line cost P 1.50.
Gaborone United became the most voted team with 62 984 votes followed by Security Systems with 51 027. On the third spot was BDF XI with 48 596 votes while Orapa United came forth with 44 401. Shockingly, Township Rollers did not make it after gathering a total of 30 637 votes, with BR Highlanders ahead of them having seen 44 204 votes to their name.
It is said, however that, the initiative live to expectation as clubs together with the sponsor have managed to assist charities of their choices. Mascom is believed to be happy for identifying beneficiaries and getting value for their money.
The mobile network company is still the longest standing partners of local football, having first tasted waters in 2005. The company now powers the Top 8 competition and said to have renewed the dame sponsorship at a value not exceeding 18 million. The Mascom Charity Cup was not the first to be hosted by a mobile network company.
In 2018, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) hosted a similar event in which followers had to vote. The four participating teams were Mochudi Center Chiefs, Gaborone United, Orapa United and Township Rollers. GU were the eventual winners.
It is however not clear if the tournament will continue in the next football calendar, but what goes down into the history books is that Teenage Mpote and Orapa United were the first to win it. In previous years, there have been an off season tournament whose aim was meant for charity purposes. The tourney was called Kabelano Charity Cup and was usually played by four big teams (Rollers, Notwane, GU and Chiefs) without taking the voting routes. It was last hosted in 2015 and had Barclays as the sponsors.
Yet another thrilling showdown is expected between the country’s hottest strikers, Thabang Sesinyi of Jwaneng Galaxy and Thataoyaone Kgamanyane of Gaborone United, as the duo are eyeing for the 2021/2022 Golden boot.
With only four Botswana Premier League (BPL) games left, the race for the honours is rolling towards a thrilling climax, but for two individuals there is a race for an accolade of their own taking place that could easily go down to the final minutes of the season. Leading the pack with 19 goals is Jwaneng Galaxy talisman, Sesinyi who is one goal apart from Kgamanyane who has netted 18 goals thus far.
Both players have their eye on the golden boot, hoping that their respective teams have fixtures to put them in with a realistic chance of catching up, or leaving the other behind. The Money Machine is currently at the summit of the BPL log with 61 points while the mining giant, Galaxy are trailing on the third place with 49 points, having played 24 games thus far.
Both teams (GU and Galaxy) are expected to face each other towards the end of the season, as the initial fixture was postponed due to Galaxy’s involvement in CAF championship group stages. With 19 goals chalked up for the season so far, Sesinyi is just one goal away from Kgamanyane who led the race for the better part of the campaign. Sesinyi who is on freakish scoring form has scored four goals in his last two games; a hat trick against Prisons XI and a goal against Sua Flamingoes in the midweek fixture.
But there is no doubt that Sesinyi is no longer playing to carry his team, Galaxy, as realistically there is a slim chance for them to clinch the 2021/2022 season, but he is eyeing the Golden Boot Award when the league falls off.
Kgamanyane has begun the season in tremendous form; scoring every time he is given a chance, while Sesinyi, on the other hand, reached the peak of his form in the second round of the season; scoring both in the domestic league and also on the CAF Champions’ league group stage. He featured on team of the week on February.
Furthermore, the Money Machine attacker showed some growth as his conversion rate has been on a rising graph in the games he has so far played. Although Kgamanyane’s goal scoring prowess has been there for everyone to see, the player has been hampered by injuries. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the duo.
Meanwhile, BPL this week announced that they will hold the 2021/2022 awards. The league has since added seven new categories to take the total number of categories to 16. Among some new categories are the Defender of the Season and Midfielder of the Season awards. There are also two more awards for the administrators, as the league has included Team Manager of the Season and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Season awards.
The best performing players in this campaign will be included in the Premier League Best XI. Nevertheless, match day officials have also been recognised with the introduction of two more categories in the young Referee of the Season and the Female Referee of the Season. Furthermore, BFL CEO Solomon Ramochotlhwane indicated that the awards will be held on the 25 June 2022, just after the 2021-2022 season comes to an end.