Botswana will be seeking a rare route out of the group stages of the TotalEnergies AFCON U20 Egypt 2023 | COSAFA Qualifier when they compete in Eswatini from October 7-16.
The Young Zebras have only qualified for the knockout rounds twice in the lost 23 years, most often falling short in the pool stages.
The regional Under-20 competition also serves as a zonal qualifier for the continental finals in Egypt early next year. To book a ticket to Cairo, Botswana will need to finish in the top two, but they have yet to make the final in the past, despite hosting the event in 2010 and 2011.
This year they have been drawn with hosts Eswatini, Zambia and Mauritius in Group A, and may feel they have a good chance to finish as at least one the best runner-up.
The top side in each pool advanced to the semifinals along with the best-placed team that ends in second.
Botswana have been regular participants in the COSAFA Under-20 Championships despite missing the tournament in 2017 and still seek a first ever trip to the final.
Their best finishes in this competition came in 2009 and 2011 when they managed third place.
First they beat Madagascar 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the bronze-medal play-off in 2009. The Young Zebras had made it through their pool but lost 3-0 to South Africa in the semifinals.
In 2011, on home soil, they lost to Zambia in the semifinals before beating Malawi to bronze.
In 2016 the side lost all three of their pool games without scoring a goal, while in 2018 they claimed four points from three games with a victory over Lesotho, a draw with Angola and defeat to Zimbabwe.
It was the same in 2019, where a 5-0 loss to hosts and eventual champions Zambia was followed by a draw with Malawi (2-2) and a win over Comoros (2-1).
They came might close to a place in the knockout stages in 2020, the last time the competition was played, as they lost to Angola 4-0 but beat Eswatini 1-0, a result which saw all three sides on three points in the three-team group.
It was therefore decided on head-to-head and they missed out.
The side have never qualified for the Africa Under-20 Championships, which will be a target of theirs this year.
BOTSWANA FINISHES IN LAST 23 YEARS
1999 – Group stages
2000 – Group stages
2001 – Group stages
2002 – Group stages
2003 – Group stages
2004 – Group stages
2005 – Group stages
2006 – Group stages
2007 – Group stages
2008 – Group stages
2009 – Third
2010 – Group stages
2011 – Third
2013 – Group stages
2016 – Group stages
2017 – Did not enter
2018 – Group stages
2019 – Group stages
2020 – Group stages