Botswana look to turn silver into gold

Best finish: Second (2020)
FIFA Ranking: 149
CAF Ranking: 31

Last five tournaments:
2018 – Group Stage
2019 – Fourth
2020 – Runners-Up
2021 – Group Stage
2022 – Group Stage

Botswana will be seeking to build on their quarterfinal showing at last year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco when they return to the regional stage, where they were HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship finalists in 2020.

They made it through to the decider three years ago from a three-team first round pool with a pair of 1-0 wins over Tanzania and Zimbabwe, before edging Zambia in a close semifinal.   That set up a decider against South Africa, but it was the home side who triumphed 2-1 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. It was still The Mares’ best finish in the COSAFA Women’s Championship and an excellent tournament overall.

They also made it through to the last four in 2019 but lost 4-0 to eventual runners-up Zambia. They went through the pool stages unbeaten though, defeating Namibia (1-0) and Mauritius (3-0), before playing to a 0-0 draw with Zambia.

They then lost the bronze-medal match, going down 3-0 to Zimbabwe.   But it is a vast improvement on past showings after they did not win a match in their first three visits to the tournament in 2002, 2008 and 2011. They broke that duck in 2017 with a 3-0 success over Lesotho.

They also managed draw against eventual champions South Africa, but it was not enough to advance from their pool as they finished second.

In 2018 they opened with a 2-0 win over Malawi, lost 1-0 to South Africa and drew 0-0 with Madagascar to finish runners-up in their pool.

Their tournament in 2021 proved a disappointment too as they did not make it out of the group phase, despite opening with a thumping 7-0 win over South Sudan, which was their joint biggest ever margin of victory over beating Mauritius by the same scoreline in 2016.

The Mares then lost 2-0 to eventual champions Tanzania and 3-0 to Zimbabwe as they missed out on the semifinals.     They went unbeaten in the 2022 COSAFA Women’s Championship but draws with Malawi (1-1) and Tanzania (0-0), and a 6-0 win over Comoros, was not enough to progress from their pool.

Their very first match in the regional showpiece competition in 2002 ended in a 14-0 loss to South Africa.   That opening defeat was in fact the very first fixture of the national team, who are now celebrating 23 years of playing at international level.

They did so in style with an excellent showing at the 2022 Wafcon, which was also their first ever appearance at a major finals.

They eased past Angola (7-1 on aggregate) in the first qualification round, before edging Zimbabwe on the away goals rule to book their place in Morocco.

They beat Burundi 4-2 in their tournament opener and despite defeats to powerhouses Nigeria (2-0) and South Africa (1-0), qualified for the quarterfinals, where they were narrow losers to hosts and eventual finalists Morocco (2-1).