Botswana coach Peter Butler is convinced the country is on the right path for a successful future and hopes his young team continue their progression at the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup.
The Zebras have been drawn against hosts and holders Namibia in the quarterfinals in the tournament that will be played in Windhoek from June 11-25.
That match will be played on June 18 and comes after some tough assignments for Botswana in friendly and Africa Nations Cup qualification matches.
Botswana meet COSAFA Castle Cup rivals Malawi in a friendly match this weekend before hosting Uganda in a crucial Nations Cup preliminary that could see them take a giant step towards the finals in Gabon.
“We are having to compartmentalise because we have got some very big matches coming up that we have to give equal focus too,” Butler said.
“I am delighted with the progress of the team, we have moved steadily up the FIFA World Rankings [they are currently 91st] and have a very strong nucleus of a side that bodes well for the future.
“We have got a young team though having managed to bring the average age down from 30 plus to the low 20s. I would say we have made good strides forward.”
Butler says the COSAFA Castle Cup match against Namibia will be a challenge for his team, but a welcome one.
“If we keep progressing down the road we are on then the future looks very good for the national team,” he said. “We have been punching above our weight recently and done well against some good teams. We beat South Africa on penalties in the COSAFA Castle Cup last year and have more than held our own against other teams.
“We don’t have the funding and provisions that other countries do but are set on developing our young players, giving them game-time and that way become a much stronger force in the future.
Botswana are currently third in their Nations Cup qualifying group, but just a single point behind Burkina Faso and Uganda. They might have been better off were it not for a surprise 1-0 loss to COSAFA rivals Comoros Islands.
The country’s only previous qualification for the continental finals was in 2012.
Englishman Butler, a former midfielder with the likes of West Ham and West Brom, has been in charge of the team since 2014.