Francistown — The Zebras exhibited an uninspiring performance at the Francistown Sports Complex on June 10 as they suffered defeat through a solitary Soudani Abdallahi goal at the hands of the visiting Mauritania.
The opening game of the Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was supposed to be a launching pad for the campaign at the arena where many teams had fallen by their sword to the disappointment of their legion of fans.
Coach Peter Butler, who never shies away from speaking his mind, cited off the field incidents as the driving force behind the lackluster performance.
The soft goal came deep in the second half after both teams huffed and puffed for the better part of the game with the Zebras squandering numerous opportunities.
The main culprits in the Zebras game were Onkabetse Makgantai and Omaatla Kebatho who should have scored in the first half.
Fielding an inexperienced team defence, Butler took the risk by throwing Thato Kebue in the deep end which proved costly as the match matured.
A cocktail of mistakes by the Zebras defence, marshaled by Moreetsi Mosimanyana put the team under pressure from an ordinary Mauritanian attack.
To add to the host team's woes, goalkeeper Mwampole Masule's positioning throughout the game was a cause for concern as he often left his posts unguarded.
The goal minder also contributed to the goal as he was unnecessarily deep in his area when the visitors snatched the lead.
While midfielder Mogakolodi Ngele supplied telling passes to his forwards, they all went to waste as they found themselves enveloped by the Mauritanian defence manned by the tall and lanky N'Diaye Bakary and Ba Abdoul respectively.
The duo was never troubled by the Zebras attack and easily protected goalkeeper Brahim Souleimane who also thwarted the few Zebras shots on target.
The only glimmer of hope for the Zebras came in the 18th minute when a Ngele free kick rattled the crossbar with Souleimane beaten.
Kebue had a torrid afternoon and had to endure playing with a head injury after being fouled by Niass Amadou who was cautioned.
In an attempt to shore up Zebras chances in the second half, Butler introduced Thabang Sesinyi for Kebatho, Thero Setsile made way for Thatayaone Kgamanyane while Makgantai was