Wafcon 2022: Debutants Botswana 'going to be history-maker' after reaching quarter-finals

1 month ago 349
Botswana in action against NigeriaBotswana progressed from Group C with one win and two defeats

Debutants Botswana want their history-making run at the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) to take them to the Women's World Cup.

Despite losing 1-0 to South Africa in their final Group C match on Sunday, the Mares advance to the quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed teams and will now face hosts Morocco.

All four semi-finalists will qualify for next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and veteran defender Bonang Otlhagile is excited to take on the unbeaten North Africans in the last eight.

"We are very happy [to progress] and we are willing to work hard because we still want to appear in the World Cup for the first time," Otlhagile, 35, told BBC Sport Africa.

"Everything we are doing this time around is going to be for the first time, and we've told ourselves that we are going to be the history-maker."

Botswana began their campaign with a 4-2 win over Burundi before suffering a 2-0 loss to Nigeria. However, they were assured of a quarter-final spot before their game against South Africa because of results elsewhere.

As they go into Wednesday's game against Morocco as the underdogs, Botswana coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang said she would not allow her players to be intimidated by the fiery hosts.

"We rate our chances," Nkutlwisang said.

"It's about preparing well and coming up with a good plan by sitting down with the technical team and analysing the Moroccans - where they're strong, and where they're weak - so that we can capitalise on their weaknesses.

"I would just say big up to the girls because they showed determination, they showed that we have talent at home. Hopefully, when we face Morocco, maybe some of our players will get scouted and move abroad."

Botswana are 90 minutes away from a ticket to the World Cup, but even if they suffer defeat against Morocco the Mares will have another chance to reach the finals.

Two beaten Wafcon quarter-finalists will enter a 10-team intercontinental play-off to decide the final three qualifiers for Australia and New Zealand 2023.

Injury concerns for high-flying Banyana

Linda Motlhalo (centre) celebrates her goal against BurundiSouth Africa are one of two sides to reach the Wafcon quarter-finals with a 100% record

South Africa may have beaten Botswana to make it three wins from three to claim top spot in Group C but have injury concerns ahead of their quarter-final against Tunisia.

Key players Thembi Kgatlana and Jermaine Seoposenwe are both trying to overcome injuries in time to be fit for the game on Thursday, with the former carried onto the team bus on the back of a member of backroom staff.

"Seoposenwe suffered a knock and we took her off," Banyana Banyana boss Desiree Ellis told BBC Sport Africa.

"It wasn't a game that we needed to play with Kgatlana, but we obviously have to check to see how bad the injury is."

Ellis is quite clear about what to expect from Tunisia, and admits she picked her Wafcon squad with the possibility of penalties in mind.

"I've had a look at Tunisia and they really came at Cameroon and showed their quality," she said.

"Tunisia beat two-time former champions Equatorial Guinea and they deserve to be here. We've got to make sure that we analyse them really well and execute the plan.

"We've been unfortunate in the penalty shoot-outs of late and penalties is a lottery. We've got to win one sometime and it's the reason why we've chosen the squad. We wanted to make sure that we bring a versatile squad for every eventuality.

"I think all the teams want to finish it in 90 minutes and not put us coaches through that, like standing there because we have no control over that when someone is taking a penalty."

Meanwhile, holders Nigeria set up a quarter-final clash against Cameroon with a 4-0 win over Burundi.

Rasheedat Ajibade, Peace Efih and two goals from Uchenna Kanu gave the record nine-time champions the victory which secured second place in Group C.

Source Article