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Zebras get boost ahead of Addis clash

Jackie Mothatego’s splendid second half strike gave Botswana a morale boosting 1-0 win over Malawi, but the game will have given Zebras coach Stanley Tshosane a lot to ponder, as the visiting Flames nearly set UB Stadium alight with their football tactics.

A late flurry gave Batswana a glimmer of hope ahead of the Zebras trip to Addis Ababa to face Ethiopia in Sunday’s World Cup 2014 qualifier (24 March), but in the first half the local side was outplayed on their own turf.

Given how Ethiopia, group leaders with four points, followed by the Central African Republic  on three, South Africa on two and Botswana on one, played enterprising football at the recent African Nations Cup in South Africa, Tshosane’s men will have to up their game.

On the evidence of March 19 night’s performance, the Zebras are easily dominated in the middle of the park.  When they did have possession, it was in the wrong places, passes sprayed at the back between captain Mompati Thuma, Oscar Ncenga, Tshepo Motlhabankwe and Musa Ohilwe, once he had to come on for Pako Lekgari.

Malawi, who played a compact game, were very comfortable on the ball, and though their front line led by Douglas Chirambo was often starved of supply, they were able to use variations and launch attacks from either of the wings or take long range shots.  Their transition from defence to attack was quicker, but Thuma led his line well.

The Zebras started with a very good move that nearly led to a goal early on, with Joel Mogorosi heading over the bar from close range.  But it would take 26 minutes before the locals attempted a shot on Owen Chaima’s goal; a Motlhabankwe  long range shot from just across the centre line, went well wide, a sign of desperation from a team bereft of ideas.

With the Zebras eventually coming out of their shell in the second half, the game became more open, and this also allowed the Malawians to trouble Kabelo Dambe. But the Township Rollers goal minder, currently on loan to South Africa’s Platinum Stars, showed why he is highly rated.

Robert Ngambi engineered Malawian attacks with his silky skills, but Dambe was up to the task, making a couple of crucial saves that proved why he is still the country’s number one, despite a lack of game time at club level.

The Zebras profited from being more attacking in the second half.  Abednego Powell and Galabgwe Moyana were brought in for Ofentse Nato and Lemponye Tshireletso.  The late introduction of Nteseng ‘Mirror’ Simanyana gave more impetus to Zebras play, as he and Mothatego became creative, with Powell sitting behind them in a holding role.

The first half pairing of Nato and Alphonse Modisaotsile seemed unclear about their roles, but they failed to get Mogorosi involved in the game.  With the second half changes, Mogorosi was able to run at the opposing defence.  In the 69th minute the Bloemfontein Celtic winger took on the Flames with a mazy run on the right wing, and when the defence half cleared his cross, the ball was brilliantly lobbed home by Mothatego.

An 83rd minute red card to Malawian defender, James Sangala for a second bookable offence further doused any  chance of a Flames comeback.  Mogorosi, now in his element, created another chance, and Moyana unluckily saw his shot hit the post.

Tshosane said the game had served to expose some frailties that his technical team will have to correct before Sunday’s match in Addis.  His counterpart Edington Ngomano was pleased his team played well, and had dominated possession for most of the game.

Namibia assistant coach Ricardo Mannetti, who was on a spying mission ahead of his side’s World Cup qualifier against Malawi in Windhoek this weekend, felt the Flames were a good side, but that the Zebras had initially made the visitors look better.

Malawi possessed the ball well, but their final pass was poor. Botswana was initially not working hard enough to win the ball and launch counter attacks.  We now look forward to the weekend game, we have beaten Malawi before, but it will be a different ball game,” said the 38-year-old Mannetti who played for Namibia from 1992-2003, including at the 1998 AFCON and for Santos in South Africa. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Pako Lebanna

Location : GABORONE

Event : International Friendly

Date : Mar 20 Wed,2013

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