Botswana's women 'have better World Cup chance than men'

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Botswana Women in action against ZimbabweBotswana beat Zimbabwe on away goals to reach the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations

Botswana's best chance of playing at the World Cup will come through women's football, according to Maclean Letshwiti, president of the country's football association (BFA).

"We believe the pathway to the World Cup for Botswana - as a matter of fact for most African countries - is through women's football," Letshwiti told BBC Sport Africa.

"We used to concentrate on men's football but now we are paying particular attention to women's football development.

"We have a deliberate strategy to promote women's football, so you can see how serious we are in developing the women's game."

Botswana's men have never qualified for the World Cup, and have only appeared at the Nations Cup once - in 2012 when they lost all three group games.

The four sides which reach the semi-finals at the Women's Nations Cup will be guaranteed spots at the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, two other teams will progress to a 10-team intercontinental play-off which will provide the final three qualifiers for the tournament.

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Botswana overcame Zimbabwe on away goals to clinch their first-ever trip to the Women's Nations Cup, with their 3-1 win in the first leg Harare proving decisive after a 2-0 defeat at home in the return fixture.

Letshwiti says their qualification is the culmination of a long-term plan.

"In terms of Botswana, in men's football there seems to be a bigger gap between us and the rest of Africa. But with women's football the gap is not that much because we have funded them in the right way," he said.

"You don't just get results in a year or so - you have to invest over a period of time to get results from your development structures.

"We have a lot of good support from the (sport) ministry and the government, so that also played a role. Running a national team is very expensive and it is the responsibility of the government.

"In this case our government has been very supportive. We had plans and it was easy to support the plans.

"The preparation started 10 years back - it is not just happening now. These girls have been playing together for the past 10 to 12 years from Under-17 and Under-20 up to the national team."

The draw for the group stages of the Women's Nations Cup is yet to be made, but Letshwiti says the BFA's focus will now be on making sure their squad is well prepared to make an impact against the continent's best sides.

"We are looking at a programme for when we go to Morocco that we are fit and more competitive," he said.

"I don't think we are going there to just add the numbers.

"You go there with the aim of at least going through to the knock-out stages. For me, for the first time, that would be an achievement. Of course you'd like to win the cup, but we'll see."

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