Gaobinelwe fears Young Gladiators

… Jacobs confident of a good showing

By Michael Uugwanga

THE coach of Botswana’s Women U-20 football team, Jacqueline Gaobinelwe is not ruling out Namibia’s U-20 women team’s chances in the second leg of the FIFA U-20 Africa World Cup qualifiers, despite her side having thumped Namibia 7-0 in the first leg at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on 19 January. The second leg will take place on Friday in Botswana.

Botswana’s U-20 women’s side outclassed the  Namibian side that was lacking fitness levels before the match due to lack of interest from the Namibia Football Association (NFA)’s top leadership, that  failed to avail funds for the Young  Gladiators to play friendly matches before the first leg, despite having received news about the qualifiers in December.

Namibia will go to Botswana to overturn the deficit, which is unlikely, but a good performance is expected from Namibian coach Mammie  Kasaona, who only started training the team fewer than five days before the first leg and already had six days of training ahead of the second leg tie.

Speaking to Confidente Sport Desk from Gaborone, Botswana while conducting a training session ahead of the match, Gaobinelwe said Namibia could still pose a big threat  although she remains confident that her side is mentally and physically fit.

The entire Botswana side in the qualifiers plays in the regional league, a league below the senior football league  called the Boteti Regional Football Association, that was funded to the tune of N$735 000 last year from Debwana through the Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines (OLDM) and its business partners KANU Equipment for a period of three years.

“I cannot say that (the tie is over) because football is football. We knew that we were going to play a very good Namibian team in the first leg. I tell my girls every day that whenever we go into a competition, we have to work very hard and that is exactly what they did in the first leg away. These players play in the regional league.

“Namibia’s team is fine, it is only that they were unfit in the first leg. We also beat Namibia 1-0 in Botswana in 2018 with the very same team. Just like the rest of countries in the qualifiers we want that slot to qualify for the World Cup,” said Gaobinelwe.

Meanwhile, Woody Jacobs who was appointed by the Namibia Football Association (NFA)’s women football desk to help  with coaching alongside former Brave Warriors great Robert Nauseb and Heinrich Isaacs, is confident that Namibia will put up a strong team in Botswana.

“Botswana’s women football is very far ahead of us in terms of development. We are going to redeem ourselves in Botswana. I am not saying that we’re going to win 8-0 but we’re going to put up a good show,” said Jacobs.

Former senior women football coach Jacky Shipanga said she was not surprised by the first leg 7-0 win by the visitors last week and pointed to the progress of women’s football in the Botswana Football Association.

“Botswana and Zambia are the future of women football in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) region, [the 7-0 score was] not even a surprise. It is not about players but corporate governance. We do not have a technical director for our football, no coach for the senior team (Brave Gladiators and our U-20 coaches are part-time. You let players camp for six days and you expect a miracle to happen. The girls last played a competitive match six months ago. Shame on us,” said Shipanga, the general manager for women football.

The winner in the two-leg tie will take on either Zambia or South Africa in the second round.