The National under-20 team currently in camp will today Friday start the COSAFA Metropolitan tournament with a view to improve on their past performance.
Botswana will this year benefit from home support as they are the host after the tournament was hosted by South Africa in the past. Last year the Diamond Zebras scooped a bronze medal and according to the coach, China Matlhaku this time around they are going for gold.
‘’The team has been in camp for this month and preparations have been going well. Yes there are challenges because the league was ongoing and we had to release the players to their teams. This is a tournament that we have prepared for since the beginning of the year when other older players graduated,’’ Matlhaku told Voice Sport.
Mathaku’s opening match will be a tricky encounter against Zimbabwe at the University of Botswana Stadium. The last these two teams met, they played to a two all draw.
More than half team Zebras are regulars at their premier league clubs and this will help Matlhaku make a strong team when he opens the tournament with Zimbabwe.
Sources close to Voice Sport have also indicated that there will be quite a number of agents to try and have a close look at a few players in the squad.
‘’We had a selection camp back in February and now we are just reaping the fruits of that. We are now focused and can’t dwell much on complaining about the fixtures. We are prepared and raring to go,’’ Matlhaku said.
When quizzed on whether the current form of the senior team won’t put them under pressure he explained that as far as he is concerned the supporters know the difference between the teams.
‘’It is good that the senior team has been doing well. It means teams will have respect for us and we can punish them. It is normal that expectations will be high but we will just play our normal game,” he said.
After Malawi pulled out of the Zebras group it now means the Zebras are left with just Zimbabwe and Swaziland in the group. A winner in each group will advance to the quarterfinal stage.
The only absentee in the team is skipper, Simisane Mathumo who has lost his father. Meanwhile Zimbabwe is said to be doing all it can to upset Botswana by involving former Township Rollers mentor, Madinda Ndlovu in planning the downfall of the team. The Young Warriors are also said to be involving quite a number of their coaches who are doing duty in Botswana.
This according to Matlhaku is not a big deal since he has also done his homework and cant plan on what other teams will do.