A profile of 2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championship hopefuls Botswana as they seek to win a first ever regional title in this age-group in Mauritius from July 19-29.
COSAFA Under-17 Championship wins (0): None
Last years’ finish: Group Stages
African Under-17 Championship appearances (3): 1995, 1997, 2013
Best finish: Group Stages (1995, 1997, 2013)
FIFA Under-17 World Cup appearances (0): None
2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championship fixtures:
19/07: vs Mauritius – 15h30 – St Francois Xavier Stadium
21/07: vs Seychelles – 12h00 – St Francois Xavier Stadium
24/07: vs Namibia – 15h30 – Auguste Vollaire Stadium
Botswana returned to the COSAFA Under-17 Championships last year after skipping the tournament in 2016 but had to be content with a group stage exit.
Losses to Malawi (0-2) and hosts Mauritius (1-2) were followed by a consolation win over Zimbabwe (2-1) as the side finished third in their pool.
They will be seeking to go one better at least this year and reach the semifinals, keeping them in the frame for a return to the African Under-17 Championships.
Botswana have been to the continental finals on three previous occasions, most recently in 2013, and to achieve that again would be confirmation of the good work being done in development in the country.
Their first appearance was in 1995 when they lost all three group games to Nigeria, Guinea and Sudan to exit at the first stage.
They were back two years later though as hosts, but again were defeated in all three games, this time by Egypt, Mali and Ivory Coast.
The team qualified again in 2013, but it was a familiar story as defeats to Morocco, Tunisia and Gabon sealed a first round exit.
With new Botswana Football Association technical director Serame Letsoaka in place, who has coached South Africa at Under-17 level in the past, there is hope that the Young Zebras will be competitive again in Mauritius in 2017.