Botswana are back for the second year running at the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship and will hope to turn their silver medal from last time out into gold.
The side were finalists in 2021 in a competition that featured only three teams, defeating Namibia 2-1 to reach the decider.
But two losses to Zambia, first in the pool stage (3-1) and then the final (4-0) meant they had to settle for second place.
Botswana also appeared in the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship in 2019 and made it all the way to the bronze-medal match, where they lost out to nemesis Zambia.
It was still an excellent debut for the side and a platform to build on, though the COVID-19 pandemic meant they did not take part in the competition in 2020.
They will be hopeful of a repeat medal performance in the five-team competition this time round, where they will open their campaign against Malawi (Dec. 1), before meetings with Mauritius (Dec. 3), South Africa (Dec. 5) and Zambia (Dec. 7).
There is no final this year, with each team allocated three points for a win and one for a draw, with the sides earning the most points deciding the final positions.
Botswana excelled on debut three years ago as they claimed first round wins over Madagascar (6-0) and Seychelles (14-1) to show all their attacking threat.
They finished runner-up in their pool though following a 5-1 loss to South Africa, which set up a semifinal clash against eventual winners Uganda.
The East Africans ran out 12-0 winners before Botswana lost 3-0 to Zambia in the third-place play-off.
Botswana entered the qualifiers for the 2008 FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup but withdrew before their tie with South Africa. They entered again two years later, but 9-1 and 13-0 losses to South Africa meant a humbling 22-1 aggregate defeat.
That did not deter the side though and in 2012 they took on Zambia, putting on a better showing as they lost 5-1 and 2-0 in the respective legs. They met Zambia a year later and this time went down 8-3 on aggregate after 5-2 and 3-1 losses, but again showed they were closing the gap.
That was proven again in the 2016 qualifiers as they were edged 3-2 on aggregate by Namibia after a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 defeat. They finally made it past the first round in extraordinary fashion for the 2018 qualifiers. Trailing 5-2 from the first leg against Zambia, they roared back to win the second 4-0 and take the tie 6-5 on aggregate.
That set up a second round meeting with South Africa, where they again held their own, but lost 5-2 and 6-4 in the two matches. They again advanced to the second round in the qualifiers for the 2020 competition, completing a comprehensive 7-0 victory on aggregate over Zimbabwe.
They lost the first leg of their second round game 1-0 to Morocco, and then could not travel for the reverse due to COVID-19 and had to give up their place in the competition, though it was eventually cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were humbled 11-0 on aggregate by Tanzania in the 2022 qualifiers.
BOTSWANA’S COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD
2019 – Fourth
2020 – Did not enter
2021 – Runners-Up
P W D L GF GA
8 3 0 5 24 29
Biggest victory: 14-1 vs Seychelles (Group Stage, 25/09/2019)
Biggest defeat: 0-12 vs Uganda (Semifinals, 27/09/2019)
6 goals – Bofelo Rantsho, Pearl Sikwane
2 – Yaone Modise, Serati Modisenyane, Christinah Monyatsi, Lorato Motlogelwa
1 – Tlhompho Gabana, Kefilwe Hangara, Kaone Mbongwe, Tumelo Tiro