- Team manager is bubbling with confidence
- Say the team has passed physical fitness tests
- Johannes sees no impediment in Pretoria
The qualifiers will be played in Pretoria, South Africa from 11-13 February 2022, where the winner will earn a ticket to the Softball World Cup. “We will have to qualify and continue to compete at global level,” Johannes said in a telephone interview. “We want to qualify for the World Cup and ensure that we bring a medal from there this time around.
“Preparations for the qualifiers are going well. The team is currently in a training camp, which is their third since last year. The camp started on the 28th of January and will end on the 10th of February when the team departs for Pretoria.” Asked why the team is leaving for South Africa only a day before the competition, Johannes answered: “We are leaving late because the climatic conditions of Pretoria and Gaborone are more or less the same and therefore there is no need to leave early for acclimatisation. It is better for the team to continue training hard in Botswana and have more friendly games.”
But is the team ready for the continental qualifier for the 2022 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup? Johannes answered in the affirmative and noted that physical fitness tests have proved the team’s readiness. “The results show that the players are above normal in their fitness,” he said. “We are planning to organise another test at the UB high performance centre just before the team departs so we are doubly certain of their fitness.”
This will be the team’s first competition since the COVID-19 pandemic brought sports to a halt in Botswana in 2020. Even so, Johannes is confident that the long break has not affected the team’s cohesion and rhythm. “In terms of cohesion and rhythm, I would say the team is fine because about 60 percent of them have been together since 2017 and have played two world championships as a unit,” he said.
The national softball team is made up of experienced players who include 12 of the 2019 squad that finished 14th at the 2019 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup and eight players from the 2017 World Cup team that delivered a historic campaign that advanced to the playoffs for the first time in the nation’s history. Kagiso Mogale, Pamidzani Mazulungwa, Karabo Motsholathebe and Kunyalala Samuel are the four pitchers on the staff.
Should the country qualify in South Africa, it will be the ninth time for Botswana to participate in the competition. The 2022 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup will take place from 26 November to 4 December in Auckland, New Zealand. Originally set for February 2021, the tournament was postponed to 2022 because of the safety precautions and international travel restrictions imposed everywhere soon after the outbreak of the damnable COVID-19 pandemic.