Botswana women's senior national team coach Gaolethoo Nkutlwisang has admitted that it would be a dream for her side to qualify for the coveted Africa Women's Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Morocco next year as they prepare to take on Angola in the first round of the qualifiers.
"I'm living this dream like any other Motswana who wants to qualify to the AWCON. We will work very hard to achieve this dream and qualify for AWCON," Nkutlwisang said.
The AWCON draw was held on Monday at the CAF headquarters in the Egyptian capital of Cairo where countries were drawn according to their zones, which are CECAF, COSAFA, WAFU A, WAFU B, UNIFFAC and UNCAF respectively.
The COSAFA region led the rest of the zones with 10 nations of the 44 nations participating in the first round of qualifiers. Reacting to the draw against Angola, Gaolethoo described her opponent as a sturdy challenger who needs to be accorded the respect she needs.
"It's a tough draw and we have started our preparations with a friendly and prolonged camp. Our teams are not active thus we have given our players programs and training schedules to push their fitness levels. We have to start immediately, and our technical team is advancing its preparations," said Nkutlwisang.
However, she affirmed that they would take the war to Angola knowing fully what is at stake as only four matches stand between Botswana and the historic AWCON qualification berth.
"If we made this dream come true then it will be a big achievement for our country Botswana and it will help local football to advance up the world rankings.
"I'm confident of our chances and the spirit of the players, who played well against South Africa's Banyana Banyana despite the 2-0 friendly loss at the Wits Stadium in Johannesburg last month.
"We had many chances in that game and this will give us a good motivation and the players know their responsibilities well."
The winner of the first round of the two-legged clash in June 2021 will then play in the second round in October 2021 against the winner between Zimbabwe/Eswatini to reach the finals in Morocco next year.
Nkutlwisang expressed confidence that her team will shine all the way to the AWCON glory adding that they have seen their opponents' style of play in their recent friendlies. Her only worry though for her side she said is the intense physicality and strong opponents.
"We have seen them in action against Namibia recently, they are well-built, but they also have their weaknesses. My players know what is at stake. The girls will play the game of their lifetime."
In an effort to beef up her squad, Nkutlwisang said she will have to call up all her players plying their trade in foreign leagues.
Source: Botswana Football Association