Zebras win first match in a year
Gaborone – Botswana’s Zebras finally gave their fans something to cheer about, when they beat Ethiopia 2-0 in an Independence Day friendly match at the National Stadium on Saturday, to end a winless streak stretching exactly 365 days.
The Zebras were winless since their 3-0 victory over Angola in the 2016 Independence Day match. But a brace from veteran striker, Jerome Ramatlhakwana lifted the year long gloom, as new Zebras coach, David Bright won his first match in four attempts. Bright replaced Briton, Peter Butler in June but had failed to change the Zebras’ waning fortunes in three matches, which saw Botswana bomb out of the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) after losing to South Africa over two legs.
On Saturday, the Zebras were far from their fluent best, but were ahead as early as the second minute when Ramatlhakwana struck from the penalty spot. The Zebras were awarded a second penalty in the 58th minute and again, up stepped Ramatlhakwana to send the goalkeeper the wrong way to complete his brace.
Ramatlhakwana is one of several veteran players Bright has called-up, ditching Butler’s preferred trust on the youth. Ethiopia did not lie down as they pressed the Zebras at times, threatening to sour the Independence Day celebrations. However, the home side held firm and saw goalkeeper, Kabelo Dambe parry away Getinah Kebede’s half volley in the 79th minute. Bright said the intention was to get a victory “whatever way”, as the team had gone for long without a win.
“Our target was to get a win, no matter how it came. I think we have achieved our goal. The boys made a lot of mistakes, losing balls and failed to convert chances. But that is something we can work on,” Bright said. The veteran coach fielded a largely experienced side after criticizing his predecessor.
Butler and Bright have been on each other’s throat since the latter’s appointment. The Englishman described Bright as a ‘dinosaur’, accusing him of reversing his gains by re-calling “over the hill” players. But Bright responded last week, saying he knew the Botswana players and was not a foreigner. He said Butler’s side lacked experience to win at international level, and that the national team was not a stage for development.