The Mares, who are the only WAFCON 2022 debutants that made it out of the group stages and into the knockout phase, have impressed many with their style of play, resilience and most of all their quality of football.
They might be out of title contention at the African showpiece but they still stand a chance to play at the world stage for the very first time in their history, however, giants Cameroon stand in their way.
“It is not going to be an easy game but I believe in my team and as a senior player, I have to do everything possible to help the team to qualify for the playoffs,” said Botswana’s focused first choice goalkeeper Maitumelo Bosija.
Botswana have played against three of the four semifinalists at the WAFCON 2022 including nine-time record African champions Nigeria (2-0), South Africa (1-0) in the group stages and hosts Morocco (2-1) losing all three but according to head coach Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang, this has prepared them for their next game.
“We have played against tough teams that have international players and for us, it is our first time at this tournament. I think we have learnt from these games but also, Cameroon is a team like any other. Yes, it is a high-ranked team but we know how to approach these games. We know what we can do,” Nkutlwisang said with confidence.
“This is going to be one of our toughest preparations for a game in terms of what lies ahead but generally looking at what we displayed during the tournament especially in our last game against Morocco with the stadium fully packed, we are motivated going into our next game with Cameroon.”
“Seeing the way Cameroon played against Nigeria, we are motivated that we can do better. We have analyzed their strength and weaknesses and we hope that we can win this game and qualify to the next playoff tournament.”
For Cameroon, having tasted the feeling of playing at the World Cup first in 2015 before returning in 2019, the Indomitable Lionesses want to return to the big stage even if it means taking the longer route now that they failed to make it automatically as semifinalists at the ongoing WAFCON.
“I believe that Botswana and us are equal. We will play to our best. Losing to Nigeria woke us up and now we have turned our focus to qualifying for the World Cup. We will keep our hope to achieve this because we need to win this match. We will do our best,” explained Cameroon’s coach Gabriel Zabo.
The Indomitable Lionesses have seemed like a shadow of themselves for the most part of this tournament drawing with Zambia in their opening fixture before coming from behind to force a 1-1 draw with debutants Togo and defeating Tunisia 2-0 in their last Group B game.
Zabo was quick to state that, “Football is a matter of skill and some luck. We have not scored many goals at this tournament. We drew against Zambia in the first game, found the back of the net against Togo and then found our feet against Tunisia. Against Nigeria, we struggled to score but we have been working on correcting our mistakes and we want to do better against Botswana.”
“Our goal is to qualify for the World Cup. The WAFCON 2022 title is now history. We still have hope for qualifying and our focus is now to do that.”
Cameroon have reached the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup on the two occasions (2015 and 2019) that they have played at the tournament.
The winners of this game and that between Senegal and Tunisia will qualify for the 10-team playoff tournament that will have two teams from Asia (AFC), South America (CONMEBOL) as well as North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) and a team each from Europe (UEFA) and Oceania (OFC).
The three top teams will qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup set to be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.
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