Botswana coach Mogomotsi Mpote admits his side are in a tough 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification group but is hopeful that with some fresh talent to compliment his established stars, they can return to the continental showpiece for the first time since 2012.
The Zebras are in a pool along with Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea and Libya, with the top two teams to advance to the finals in Ivory Coast next year.
It is certainly a difficult group with three worthy opponents and some arduous travels, but Mpote is confident his side will compete.
“It’s a tough one, there is no easy group [in the qualifiers],” Mpote says. “You are playing big boys now. You need to prepare well and play those games. We are expecting to work hard and win some matches.
“We always think about the advantage of other countries, whereby they have players who are playing in the European leagues, and you have boys who are not in those leagues.
“But at least we know the boys are playing week in, week out [in the local league]. We are looking forward to those games.”
Mpote, who led Botswana to the 2019 COSAFA Cup final, where they lost to Zambia, says he would like to introduce some new players into the squad during the campaign.
“You have to mix [the squad], because we are looking at 2023 and beyond. You have players from the Under-23s, and then the tried and tested boys. If you mix, and you know you have at least two players in each position, young and senior, you will make it.
“The Under-23s will know what we are up against when we play these CAF games. Many of the boys admire the players in Europe, but once you play with them [you learn the level] and find a way to compete with them.”
Also in this episode of The COSAFA Show, we hear from Petro Atletico coach Alexandre Santos on how they defeated Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League, and the co-coach of Orlando Pirates Mandla Ncikazi on their progress in the CAF Confederation Cup.