Veterans of just five FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaigns, Botswana first got to grips with the competition ahead of USA 1994, when they were knocked out in the opening round. Eight years later, their bid began and ended with a loss to Zambia over two legs, and it took them until the 2006 edition to pass the first obstacle, though they promptly exited in the second round after finishing second bottom in a group won by Tunisia. Given an automatic spot in the second round on the road to South Africa 2010, Botswana then came in last in their section, before they bowed out following a third-place finish at the same stage for Brazil 2014.
Botswana's results have been steadily improving since the turn of the century, and they broke exciting new ground when they booked a place at the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations – a real breakthrough for the nation of just two million inhabitants. The Zebras now hope to spring a few upsets in the race for places at Russia 2018, with several of their players having amassed experience in the South African championship.
Since taking command at the start of 2014, former West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion midfielder Peter Butler has looked to build over the long term by introducing a number of fresh talents into his line-up.
11 – Botswana had to wait 11 years before clinching their first victory in a World Cup qualifier, a 4-1 success against Lesotho in the preliminary campaign ahead of Germany 2006.
The former stars
Itumeleng Duiker, Donald Thobega, Dipsy Selolwane