Botswana hope for first final appearance at regional Under-17s

Botswana will hope for a first ever final appearances when they play in the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations | COSAFA Qualifier at the Region 5 Games Lilongwe 2022, which would book them a ticket to the continental finals next year.

The top two teams in the competition will book a ticket to Algeria, which would be a major achievement for Botswana.

They face a tough road though having been drawn in Group A with hosts Malawi and Namibia, two teams who have proven very adept at this level in the past.

Botswana have had a difficult recent history at the COSAFA Under-17 competition, failing to make it out of the group stages and, in the case of 2020, facing disqualification for selecting players who did not meet eligibility criteria.

But they do have a long history with the competition. Their journey began in 1994, but it proved a difficult experience as the side lost all three games to Mozambique (1-0), Zimbabwe (1-0) and Lesotho (3-1).

They got their first win in the 2001 tournament, defeating Mauritius 5-0, but a 2-0 defeat to Malawi meant they exited at the first stage.

The team finished third at the 2002 event following a loss to hosts South Africa (2-0) and draws with Eswatini 1-1 and Lesotho (2-2).

Their next showing in 2007 proved a chastening experience as they suffered heavy losses in both games, going down to Malawi (6-1) and Zambia (8-0).

They did not feature in 2016, but returned in 2017 and gained a second victory, this time against Zimbabwe (2-1). But that was after they lost to Malawi (2-0) and hosts Mauritius (2-1).

The side was desperately close to a semifinal place in 2018, losing out only on goal-difference after three sides all finished on six points.

They beat Mauritius (1-0) and Seychelles (2-1), but lost to Namibia (2-0) to end what was still a successful tournament.

Botswana did not enter in 2019 and had that disqualification the following year, but were back in 2021 though they again exited in the pool stages. They drew 1-1 with Malawi and lost 2-0 to Angola in the three-team group.

Last five tournament finishes:
2017 – Group Stages
2018 – Group Stages
2019 – Did not enter
2020 – Disqualified
2021 – Group Stages