Botswana’s National Under 15 has been drawn in what could be termed a group of death for the Africa Youth Championships billed for this coming May.
In a draw done on Tuesday morning, Ricardo Marape’s boys were pitted against Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania in Group A.
In Group B neighbours South Africa will tussle it out against Mali, Gabon and Swaziland.
“This is a tough group,” sighed team Manager Fobby Radipotsane after the draw.
Speaking to Voice Sport after the draw Radipotsane was however optimistic that the local boys could pull a surprise in front of the home fans.
Radipotsane said although they wished for a favorable draw, they take comfort in the knowledge that their preparations have gone well thus far.
“We started early in January and this is our tenth week. There is still six weeks left before the games, so there is a bit of time to get the boys ready,” said Radipotsane.
The Pilikwe United founder and Manager further said the local boys recently won a tournament in Lehurutshe where they played against two academies.
“We played against the Rustenburg and Lehurutshe Academies and won the tournament,” he said.
“We are however worried about the physical nature of the Nigerians and DRC boys,” said Radipotsane.
To prepare the boys for a physical match, Radipotsane said they will go to Zimbabwe to play against Highlanders’ Under 15 side.
“I believe that will give us enough preparation for Nigeria and DRC. We also have a friendly match lined up against Bidvist Wits Under 15 side,” he said.
Marape and his assistant Fannie Mathibe have been at the helm of the U15 side for the past 11 years and have worked with the likes of current senior National team players Moreetsi Mosimanyana and Mogakolodi “Tsotso” Ngele.
The entire Under 17 team that competed at the Youth Championship Games in Morocco was nurtured by Marape and Mathibe.
“Looking at their record I’m confident that this team will compete. We have selected the best there is,” said Radipotsane.
The second Africa Youth Games starts in May 22 till 31st in Gaborone.