Botswana Football Association have on Tuesday sent the senior women national team to Port Elizabeth, where they will challenge for the regional glory in the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Women’S Championships 2022, which began today.
Following an impressive showing at the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) recently, there are expectations that Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang’s team will surely go for gold in Port Elizabeth. That, however, is the least of the most important things in the priorities of Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership.
The BFA Chief Executive Officer, Mfolo Edwin Mfolo, during a press briefing held at Lekidi on Tuesday, reiterated that the COSAFA cup competition is a regional developmental tournament and therefore, long term objectives are given serious considerations in respect to development.
Mfolo, together with the association’s technical director, Tshepo Mphukuthi, have emphasized the importance of finding ways to reinvigorate the squad and integrate new talents into the senior team to enhance future success of the side.
International star players and some of the team members who were with the team in Morocco are not part of the team that travelled to South Africa.
“We must be cognizant of the fact that we are getting into the new football circle, some of the players who were with the team in Morocco, are not here because they have secured professional contracts abroad—we’ve decided to allow them time to settle at their clubs.
We want to create a pool of players who will be competitive so that next time we go to WAFCON we’ve a wide option of players to choose from,” Mphukuthi said.
“We have taken a deliberate decision as an association, that going forward, COSAFA for us is a developmental tournament for both our men and women teams. We want to refresh the squad because we are looking at 2027 women’s world cup, we’ve already shifted our focus to 2027.
We need to prepare early, we have talented players like Lone Gaofetoge, we need to build them and ready them to compet55sa:: e at a high level whilst they are still young,” Mfolo added.
Mphukuthi highlighted that, before the world cup in 2027, there are three (3) COSAFA cup tournaments, two (3) WAFCON championships and Paris Olympic qualifiers which will enable the players to have “wealth of experience” at international stage.
Most of the players selected, formed part of the team that reached the finals of the Region 5 tournament in 2018, according to Mphukuthi who reiterated that they will not be push-overs at Port Elizabeth.
For her part, team Captain, Lesego Radiakanyo of Double Action ladies team, said they have prepared well and pleaded for support from the nation, adding that they will do the best they can to make Batswana proud.
“We’ve prepared well, morale is high in the camp, everyone is excited and ready to compete. We are calling for support from Batswana and we hope that they will accept whichever results we get but I can promise them that we will do the best we can to make them proud,” Radiakanyo said.
Botswana have not won the COSAFA cup tournament and only made the finals of the competition in 2020, after edging out Zambia in the semi-finals but were denied a gold medal by South Africa.