Botswana name squad for COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship

Botswana coach Tebogo Mokute has named his final squad for the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championships that starts on Thursday, while his Under-20 counterpart Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul has called on a number of new players ahead of that competition next month.

Mokute has had his side in camp since the start of November, and has whittled down the squad to the final 20 that will compete in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay.

There they will hope to not just lift the regional trophy, but also be one of the two finalists that secure a berth to the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations.

Botswana have been drawn in Group B at the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championships, where they will face Malawi (Nov. 20), Comoros (Nov. 22) and defending champions Zambia (Nov. 25). The top two sides in each pool advance to the semifinals.

Botswana will make a return to the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship after missing out on last year’s tournament in Malawi.

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.

This is a new generation of youngsters, but some of those players from two years ago have graduated to the next age-group, which will compete in the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championships, also in Nelson Mandela Bay, from December 3-13.

There Botswana have been drawn in Group C with Angola and Eswatini in a tournament that also serves as a zonal qualifier for the African Under-20 Cup of Nations next year.

Coach Paul has been steadily adding to his squad and recently included former Maritzburg United midfielder Gareth Kemp.

The Young Zebras’ previous best finishes in the regional showpiece competition came in 2009 and 2011 when they managed third place.

They managed a win, draw and defeat in 2019, losing 5-0 to hosts and eventual winners Zambia, drawing 2-2 with Malawi and defeating Comoros 2-1.

Botswana Under-17 final squad:

Goalkeepers: Menson Busang, Lefika Ngwako, Bakang Boima

Defenders: Thabo Bakwena, Levi Monageng, Kutlo Kgetheng, Ontlametse Selebogo, Thuto Bafeletse, Mompati Tshoganetso, Kagiso Masankela

Midfielders: Thompho Mokganedi, Monty Enosa, Maatla Ramogalana, Omphie Ramoagi, Kgotso Radithogwa, Kenny Itshepeng, Totlo Junior Kgaolo

Strikers: Kgotso Tlhowe, Obakeng Mazongo, Koketso Mwampole