THE MARES WRITE AN IMPRESSIVE HISTORY AT WAFCON 2022

The Mares celebrating their goal against Burundi.

BY:Rapalai Calystus

Botswana Women’s Senior National Team, The Mares as fondly called made a remarkable debut at Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) 2022 on the 4th of July 2022 in Morocco.

The star-studded national team started their campaign with a 4-2 win against Burundi at the biggest tournament on African soil.

THE MARES EARN BATSWANA`S TRUST

Despite making their first appearance at WAFCON, The Mares started on a high note, writing history and earning the hearts and trust of Batswana who seemed to have lost hope in their team looking at their group, which consists of The Super Falcons of Nigeria, South Africa and Burundi.

The first historical goal came in the 44th minute from a well-taken shot by Mexican Girls and The Mares ‘ 20-year-old speedy winger Keitumetse “Ben 10” Dithebe, who wrote history by becoming the first-ever Motswana women to score at a major tournament, with a beautiful assist from Nondi Mahlasela.

Refilwe “Seven” Tholakele, Township Rollers ladies, and The Mares striker were also on top of the game on the night as she also wrote history by becoming the first Motswana player to score a brace in a space of 5 minutes at a major tournament in the continent, and scooping woman player of the match.

Seven scored a brace at the end of the night, and a second goal assist which was beautifully converted by Lesego “Skilesh” Radiakanyo.

The Mares’ historic win at the end of the day saw them ending the first-round games at WAFCON 2022 at the top of the table in their group C, against big names such as South Africa and Nigeria who both have won the tournament before, and more than twice.

Botswana tops their group with an advantage of goal difference after neighbors South Africa defeated defending champions Nigeria 2-1.

When asked on an interview, The Mares head coach Goletlhoo “Ronaldo” Nkutlwisang believes that their win against Burundi was a present from his girls to her as she was adding another year of her life the following day, the biggest price she has ever received, “I thank God for yesterday’s results and most importantly my girls and the technical team for a warm birthday present win a win”, Ronaldo.

The Mares have two more group stage games to go against Nigeria and South Africa, which will decide their fate in the tournament. Botswana will take on Nigeria on the 7th of July 2022 in the 2nd group stage game before playing  South Africa in the last game of the group on the 10th of July 2022.

The Mares historic squad consists of:

GOALKEEPERS

  • Lesego G. Moeng (BDF), Merylin John (BDF), and Sedilame Boseja (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa),

DEFENDERS

  • Goitsemano Tlamma (BDF), Bonang Otlhagile (Double Action), Veronica Mogotsi (Double Action), Kesegofetse Mochawe (Prisons), Masego Montsho (BDF), Nancy Baeletsi (Prisons), Laone Moloi (Double Action), Lone Gaofetoge (Geronah),

MIDFIELDERS

Lesego Radiakanyo (Double Action), Keitumetse Dithebe (Mexican Girls), Balotlhanyi Johannes (Double Action), Selebatso Golebaone (Prisons), Mokgabo Thanda (YASA, Zambia), Annah Sechane (Township Rollers), Leano Atang Busang (Prisons)

STRIKERS

  • Ontlametse Gaonyadiwe (Double Action), Refilwe Tholakele (Township Rollers), Michelle Abueng (BDF), Nondi Mahlasela (Prisons), Esalenna Galekhutle (TYLER JUNIOR COLLEGE, USA), and Thuto Ramafifi (ALBANY STATE UNIVERSITY, USA).

The technical team consists of Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang as head coach, Alex Malete as an assistant coach, Joseph Maposa as goalkeeper coach, Tshepo Goitseamang as a physical trainer, Mmapule Olebile as welfare manager, Magoeline Joubert as equipment manager, Kenneth Dambe as video analyst, Ikgopoleng J. Msomi as a security manager, Chepete Unoda as team physiotherapist, Merero M. Ntshese as a team doctor and Mojaki Monnakgotla as general manager.

The WAFCON 2022 is the 14th edition organized by CAF.

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Calystus Rapalai is SPORTSNATION correspondent. He is also resident analyst of ON THE BALL show live on facebook.

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