Sports

Zimbabwe/Botswana: Botswana Arrive for Crucial Tie

THE Mighty Warriors opponents in the Africa Women Cup of Nations last qualifying round, Botswana, were scheduled to arrive in the country last night ahead of their crunch first leg tie at the National Sports Stadium on Friday.

The neighbours are without their United States-based forward Thuto Ramafifi and injured Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Sedilame Boseja.

However, the United States-based player Esalenna Galekhutle and Zambia-based Mokgabo Thanda are part of the team that is seeking to cause an upset and qualify to AWCON finals in Morocco at the expense of Zimbabwe.

The visitors have also brought their captain Bonang Otlhagile, who once played league football in Zimbabwe and was teammates with Mighty Warriors forward Rudo Neshamba at Inline Academy in Bulawayo.

Botswana senior national women's football team coach, Gaolethoo Nkutlwisang, told Botswana media before her team's departure for Harare that she strongly believes it is the Mares' turn to qualify for their maiden Nations Cup finals.

"I believe in God and I also believe in my players. I also believe in myself and that this is the time that we qualify for AWCON. We have been given two games to reach the AWCON (finals) and there is no reason we should not take it. Everyone involved, from the members of the technical team to the players, should share the same mentality, if not they are in the wrong place. We are going to Zimbabwe to fight. It is not going to be easy but we will fight," said Nkutlwisang.

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Although statistics do not favour the Batswana side, both the Mighty Warriors and Botswana coaches have refused to read much into the past meetings with the last one being in October last year at the COSAFA Championships.

Zimbabwe beat the Mares 3-0 in a group stage match at Nelson Mandela Bay.

"We should not forget that the games are different as the days are different. We might have not played well against them in the past but in our preparations, we have focused on how they play and how we can beat them. I believe now, looking at the way we prepared this time around, we should be ready to face Zimbabwe," said Nkutlwisang.

Botswana football has been on the rise and making significant strides in getting recognised in women's football.

The team is reported to have received a massive boost from a diamond company that is meant to motivate them against Zimbabwe.

According to reports from Gaborone, the Mares received P300 000 from Lucara Diamond Corp.

The sponsorship is a means of encouraging the team and serve as a morale booster ahead of their tie against Zimbabwe.

Each player is likely to walk away with P11 000 while team officials will walk away with P5 000 which converts to almost US$1 000 per player and US$400 respectively.

As for the Mighty Warriors, ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday said they will be paid accordingly.

However, he refused to discuss the figures.

Gwesela said the Government, through the Sports Commission, will pay the Mighty Warriors match appearance fees and incentives.

"We don't discuss monetary issues with the Press. They will be paid. The Government is catering for current expenses. Their outstanding money will be paid by ZIFA once the situation has normalised," said Gwesela.

The Mighty Warriors are still owed some outstanding bonuses from their previous matches. The Sports Commission are trying to bridge the gap between the treatment of the Mighty Warriors and the Warriors. For the first time, the Mighty Warriors were booked in an upmarket hotel ahead of Friday's match against Botswana.

Artmotion S.Africa

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