Botswana will be hosting the highly anticipated African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games Gaborone 2018 from the 6th -16th of December in the capital city Gaborone, where 10 nations are expected to participate.
COSAFA have once again been tasked with organising the football tournaments and an official draw was conducted for the men’s Under-17 and women’s Under-20 competitions resulting in some mouth-watering fixtures.
In the men’s draw, hosts Botswana will face Zambia, Eswatini and Namibia in their Group A.
The 2018 COSAFA Under-17 champions Angola are the top seeds in Group B and they will take on Tanzania who is the guest nation in the competition from outside the region.
Malawi and South Africa are the other two competing in what is believed to be the group of death.
In the women’s competition seven countries will be taking part. Hosts Botswana have been pitted in Group A against Zimbabwe, Malawi and Lesotho, while defending champions South Africa will face Namibia and Eswatini in Group B.
The top two teams in each pool will proceed to the semi-finals with winners in the groups facing the runners-up in both the boys and women’s competitions.
Botswana Under-20 women’s team coach Jacqueline Gaobinelwe said the draw went well and she is taking nothing for granted even though they have home advantage and says respect must be given to all of their opponents.
“We missed these Games in 2016 so Botswana is not here to add numbers despite our challenges. We will not have the preparations that we wished for because my players are writing their final examinations in October and November, so this must not be an excuse as we want to win,” Gaebinelwe said.
In the men’s competition, Botswana coach TebogoMokute said their group is not an easy one, however he believes his side has the talent to be victorious in all their matches.
He added that in the COSAFA Under-17 Championships held in Mauritius in July, they lost to Namibia in the group stages and also played Eswatini during the preparations and as such they know what to expect from the two teams.
“Our main shortfall was a lack of scoring and we have since added three new players to our squad to resolve that problem,” said Mokute.
The coach added that their target is to do well in the first round and progress to the knockout stages.
“As the hosts we can’t afford to be eliminated early in the tournament and watch from the stands, so we need to work very, very hard,” concluded Mokute.
There will be three stadia being used during the Football events – the 8,000-seater UB Stadium, Jamal grounds and National Stadium.
Source: South African Football Association