Botswana goalkeeper Sedilame Boseja hopes The Mares maiden appearance at the TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations will finally bring the spotlight to the growth and development of the women’s game in the country.
The Mares knocked out Zimbabwe in the last round of the qualifiers to book a spot in the competition scheduled for 2-23 July in Morocco. Togo, Burkina Faso and Burundi are the other debutants at this year’s tournament.
Coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang’s charges have been improving over the last few years. In their growth and improvement they have beaten heavyweights in the Cosafa region. They eliminated South Africa from the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers in 2019 and they also beat Zambia’s Copper Queens in the semi finals of the 2020 Cosafa Women’s Championship.
“This will be our first time in the Afcon, so it shows that football in Botswana has really been growing in the past two years. One thing our coach did was introducing us to the senior team when we were still very young. If you look at our team right now, most of them are 96/97 and have been playing for the national team for about four-five years. It shows that when you play a young squad, in the future you will get results,” she says.
The Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies keeper says they will have to guard being overly excited at the tournament and lose focus of what they are at the Women’s Afcon for. She anticipates that the competition will open doors for other players to compete in club football outside of Botswana.
“This means more opportunities for our players to play overseas. And maybe even qualifying for the World Cup, that would really mean a lot to us. Most people call us the underdogs but one thing about the underdog is you never know what to expect. I am hoping not to undermine or overrate any team when we get there. We will just have to play our normal football and the aim is to win,” she says.
Frederick Marfo is a sportswriter and social worker well known for his advocacy for equal chances and rights for all athletes, especially those with disabilities.