Gaborone — Young Zebras coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic was left disappointed as his team failed to defend a 1-0 lead against Congo in the Under 20 African Cup of Nations qualifiers first leg played at the National stadium on Saturday.
Botswana made their intention clear from the first blow of the whistle and were rewarded with a well taken goal inside the first 25 minutes through Thabang Khuduga.
However, concentration lapse in the dying minutes of the game earned Congo a late equaliser .
Pinned against their more physical counterparts from Central Africa, the Young Zebras demonstrated a lot more flair and creativity as they launched waves of attacks towards the Congolese goals who had their keeper to acknowledge for a respectable 1-0 score line going into the first half interval.
Boosted by an early goal and home support, the Young Zebras went into the second half with their heads up and absorbed constant pressure from their opponents who resorted to a more direct approach of the game and their efforts were paid off in the 90th minute as the Young Zebras failed to deal with a long ball from the right flank that found an unmarked Congolese player in the box to converted with ease.
The one all draw on Saturday gave the visitors a crucial away goal going into the second leg to be played in Brazzaville in a fortnight.
The winner will proceed to the third round of the competition to meet either Egypt or Senegal.
In a post-match Stanojlovic praised his side for showing mental growth and putting up a brave fight against a much-experienced Congo side.
He however decried not being clinical in the final third of the field, indicating that his side could have put the game to rest in the first half owing to a good number of scoring opportunities but only to deflate in their finishing.
"We lacked composure to finish off the final ball and could have been home and dry in the first half had we converted our chances rather than being left to rue our missed chances as it is the case right now," said Stanojlovic.
He said it was also painful to concede a goal in the dying minutes of the game, something he said left the team with a mammoth task going to the second leg.
Even though they considered an away goal, Stanojlovic remains confident that his side will proceed to the next round because he now had full knowledge of his opponents and would know how to approach the game in Brazzaville on May 20.
Source : BOPA