Gaborone — THE national soccer team, Taifa Stars, Coach Kim Poulsen has admitted his side looked weak at the back and demanded an improvement after they played out to a 3-3 draw with Botswana in their international friendly match on Wednesday night.
Stars led twice in against Botswana's Zebras but narrowly escaped the defeat in a six goal thriller at the Molepolole Stadium in Gaborone, largely due to defensive lapses. Erasto Nyoni opened the scoring from the spot kick to give Taifa Stars a 1-0 lead in the early minutes of the game with Lemponye equalizing for the Zebras in the 26th minute.
Taifa Stars regained the lead five minutes later thanks to Mwinyi Kazimoto's long range drive to make it 2-1, but Botswana hit back when Lemponye got his brace to level the matters for the Zebras in the 37th minute. On resumption, Mogaladi scored for the Zebras to make the scoreline 3-2 against Taifa stars, as the home side went ahead for the first time in the game.
But Taifa Stars had the last say as Mrisho Ngassa scored a heroic goal in the final stages of the game to earn Taifa Stars a well deserved 3-3 draw against the Zebras. Speaking afterwards, coach Poulsen said:
"Despite the fact that we played well, I think we had problems at the back, defensively we looked fragile. We allowed too many crosses into our box and conceded some silly goals.
"Defenders should not allow so many cross balls and need to keep tight marking against opponent strikers when crosses are played into the box. Defensively we have a lot of work to do as a unit to do much better."
Taifa Stars' back four comprised of Erasto Nyoni, Amir Maftah, Aggrey Morris and Kelvin Yondani. The quartet struggled to protect their goalkeeper Juma Kaseja. Poulsen would at least be pleased with his side's offensive play, as they finally looked well on fire, scoring three goals against the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations participants, away from home.
Mercurial winger Mrisho Ngassa was unarguably the star of Taifa Stars's offensive show after the Simba player won first-half penalty and notched a late equalizer to spare his side's blushes. He stole the show with his slippery runs, pace and dribbling skills, which unsettled Botswana's defence and no wonder that he won Botswana fans.
Said Bahanuzi won his first Taifa Stars cap after an outstanding performance in the CECAFA Kagame Cup championship with his new club Yanga, but here he failed to live up to his billing. "Bahanuzi was playing his first international match for Taifa Stars, so I expected a few mistakes from him, but gradually he will improve."
Stars are sponsored by the Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) under its flagship Kilimanjaro Beer brand played against their hosts, Botswana in a build-up fixture on Wednesday night. The match, played on FIFA date for international friendlies, was designed to prepare the team for the coming competitive assignments.
Taifa Stars lined-up: Juma Kaseja, Erasto Nyoni, Amir Maftah, Aggrey Morris, Kelvin Yondani, Frank Domayo/ Shabani Nditi, Mrisho Ngasa, Salum Abubakar/ Athuman Idd, Said Bahanuzi/Simon Msuva, Haruna Moshi/ Ramadhan Singano and Mwinyi Kazimoto.
Botswana: Mompoloki Sephekolo, Tshepo Motlhabankwe/Tshepo Maikano, Edwin Olerile, Oscar Obuile Ncenganye, Mompati Thuma, Patrick Motsepe/Jackie Mothatego, Lemponye Tshireletso, Michael Mogaladi, Tebogo Sembowa, Ntesang Simanyana and Galabgwe Moyana/Lovemore Murirwa.