The Baby Gladiators beat Botswana 2-1 in Gaberone in their 2016 FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup qualifiers preliminary round first leg match on Sunday afternoon and now look set to finish the job in a fortnight’s time in the decisive return leg to be held in Windhoek.
Playing in the Botswanan capital, the Baby Gladiators rewrote the history books as they became the first junior football side to win away from home. The Namibians created numerous goal scoring opportunities in the first half. According to coach Mervin Mbakera, the team had no less than seven clear-cut chances to score at least three goals in the opening 15 minutes.
The goal eventually came through Namib Daughters’ striker, Kylie van Wyk, who timed her run to perfection, setting herself up for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper before lobbing the ball neatly into the back of the net midway through the first half. However, the hosts fought back and levelled the scoreboard just a minute before half time.
Tura Magic striker Fransisca Haoses got the winner in the second half after she found space at the back of the Botswana defense. She controlled the ball with great composure before delivering a powerful finish into the far low corner.
“We played very well today. It was a victory well deserved and the girls are very well aware that to lose at home would be very bad. So the second leg will be huge for us. It won’t be easy, but we will be working on the mistakes from the first leg and then try to finish the work in Windhoek. The victory really helps our course and hosting Botswana we will know exactly what to do – with not so much pressure,” said an ecstatic Mbakera.
Namibia hosts Botswana in two weeks’ time – on December 11 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium – with the winner advancing through to the first round proper next January, where Nigeria awaits.