The decision by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to appoint German Dr Caroline Baun last year as assistant to senior men national coach Adel Amrouche was a masterstroke.
She is not only involved in the senior national men team but her influence in the women game has been nothing short of miraculous. Somehow, she seems to have turned around the Female Zebras as was indicated over the weekend when the U-20 junior girls hammered Namibia 7-0 in Windhoek.
In certainly the highest scoring match of the FIFA Women U-20 CAF qualifying preliminary round, Michelle Abueng got out of the starting blocks faster than Usain Bolt and grabbed herself five goals with Obonetse Rathari adding the sixth while Tebatso Pilane smashed the seventh.
It has not gone un-noticed that Botswana’s senior women eliminated South Africa’s Banyana Banyana from the 2020 Olympic qualifiers and achieved this feat after Banyana Banyana had been dominant in the event, qualifying for both the 2012 London and 2016 Brazil Olympic games.
In other U-20 qualifying matches over the weekend, Shyline Dambamuromo put Zimbabwe in the lead against their hosts Malawi who bravely clawed their way back into the game and eventually found an equalizer through Valeria Packry and leaves the tie hanging precariously on a thread.
A disappointing 29 countries have entered for the continental leg of the qualifiers for the final that would be co-hosted by Costa Rica and Panama during August with 16 teams and only two will emerge from Africa.
In Dar es Salaam, Uganda’s Juliet Nalukenge put the She Cranes ahead early in the game but Dian Msewe levelled the score and Tanzania put their best foot forward as Opa Clement snatched the winner to give them an advantage into the second leg encounter in a fortnight.
South Africa entered the lioness’ den in Lusaka to confront hosts Zambia and snatched two priceless goals scored by Chelsea Daniels and Thubelihle Shamase either side of the two halves and stand a better chance of advancing to the next round when they host the second leg at home next week.
But it is not going to be smooth sailing for the South Africans who are likely going to face the rampant Botswana who already have a 7-0 advantage over Namibia. But even if they manage to negotiate their way past Botswana, there are even bigger hurdles that lie ahead before they can reach the mountain top.
The South Africans could find themselves facing either Senegal, Ghana or Tanzania before they can realize their dreams of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup finals and mind you, they lost to Tanzania during the COSAFA Championship two months ago and the East Africans will certainly not be pushovers.
The other likely national to represent Africa is possibly going to emerge from either Morocco (who defeated Egypt 5-3 in Cairo), Algeria, Cameroon or Nigeria.
Namibia 0-7 Botswana
Zambia 0-2 South Africa
Malawi 1-1 Zimbabwe
Burundi 0-5 Ethiopia
Tanzania 2-1 Uganda
Sierra Leone 0-1 Senegal
Mauritania 0-6 Guinea Bissau
Burkina Faso 3-2 Gambia
Liberia 3-0 Guinea
Congo 2-0 Angola
Egypt 3-5 Morocco
South Sudan 0-5 Algeria
Gabon (walked-over DR Congo)
Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon bye into the next round)