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The Mares’ 2020 Tokyo Olympic dream lives on

Publishing Date : 10 September, 2019

Author : KENNETH MOSEKIEMANG

Following the remarkable win over long time perennial oppressors; South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, on Tuesday night at Orlando Stadium, Botswana women’s national team can finally breathe a sigh of relief as their dream of making their maiden appearance at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is getting closer and closer. 

 

The Senior National Women’s Team is among 8 teams that look to secure their place at the Olympic Games in Japan. Other teams include 2012 Beijing Olympic finalists Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, DR Congo and Nigeria. Nigeria are the current reigning and defending African Women’s champions. The Mares, who are led by coach, Gaoletlhoo Nkutusang, and his assistant coach, Alex Malete, crushed Banyana Banyana’s aspirations of making their third successive Olympic Games, on Tuesday night, after they defeated the South Africans 3-2, on account of a penalty shoot-out. 


The shoot-out came as consequence of a goal-less scoreboard, after both teams battled it out for a nail biting 120 minutes on the field, neither able to penetrate the other’s impeccable defense. Botswana’s number one shots stopper and also Bloemfontein Celtic ladies team keeper, Sedilame Bosija produced a ‘woman of the match’ performance, as she showed her true mettle by saving 2 crucial penalties, to send the Mares into the third round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers.  The Mares, as they are affectionately known by their supporters, will tussle it out with one of Southern Africa’s most powerful teams; She-polopolo of Zambia in the next round of qualifiers. 
 


Coach Nkutusang’s ladies, will go head to head with the Zambian side in the first leg of the game, which will be during the Independence celebrations in September, and the second leg of the game is expected to be played on the 4th of October in Botswana at the National Stadium.  The ladies national team looks to exert revenge on the Zambias, for walloping them (the Mares) 4-nil, during the COSAFA women’s quarter finals, which saw She-polopolo advance to the finals. This came as a devastating blow to the young Mares, as a victory would have seen them in the finals; a dream many of them and their supports aspired to see come true. Should The Mares pull off a victory, it would come as a much needed remedy to their open wound and boost their confidence levels. However the upcoming games between the two teams play out, the winner of the two legged rounds will either face Ghana or Kenya in the next round of qualifiers.


Earlier last month, Botswana National Sports Council BNOC), together with Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and Botswana Football Association (BFA), amicably agreed to send The Mares for a 2 week camp in Slovakia, in preparation for the 2020 Olympic qualifiers, in which the team played several friendly games with Slovakian teams, the results of that 2 week training camp has since started to bear fruit.  In as much as the women’s national team is getting closer to their dream, there are many obstacles in their way. 


It will be nothing short of an uphill battle as the Mares will come into the games as the underdogs, in the upcoming Tokyo2020 Olympic Games. The team has been ranked the lowest in the remaining 8 teams, having been placed at 152, one step down from their previous ranking having managed to only secure a total of 796 points. This is according to the latest 2019 FIFA rankings.

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