2026WCQ: Somalia's struggles continue as Ocean Stars fall to Botswana's Zebras

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With zero points from four matches, Somalia's dream of qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup remains elusive, but they can use the experience as a learning curve.

At the Estadio do Zimpeto in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, the Ocean Stars of Somalia suffered their fourth defeat in as many 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, losing 3-1 to the Zebras of Botswana.

With Somalia lacking a stadium that is up to CAF and FIFA standards for hosting international football matches, the Matchday Four encounter match counted as a home game for Somalia but it was the away side that had it more comfortable as they notched their second win of their qualifiers, a result that sent them to second place on goal difference with six points in Group G.

With both teams losing 2-1 and 1-0 to Mozambique and Uganda on Matchday 3, respectively, this encounter provided the best chance for Somalia and Botswana to redeem themselves ahead of resuming their qualifying campaign with Matchday 5 fixtures in March 2025.

However, Botswana asserted their dominance as Somalia faced yet another harrowing lesson about the distance they needed to cover to catch up with the other teams on the continent.

It took Botswana only 10 minutes to open the scoring, with Jwaneng Galaxy midfielder Thabang Sesinyi racing into the box to get a first touch on a cross sent from deep in the right channel by Gaborone United right back Alford Velaphi. As Somalia's defence backtracked to hold their line, Sesinyi had an advantage to meet the inswinging cross and power a header past Somalia's goalkeeper, Mohamud Jama.

Botswana continued to dominate the first half, having most of the ball, creating most of the chances, and limiting Somalia to two scoring attempts that were on target but saved by the away side's goalkeeper, Goitseone Phoko.

The two teams went to the break with Botswana maintaining their one-goal lead but doubled their advantage just eight minutes after the restart, once again capitalising on a mistake by the Somalia defence.

The Ocean Stars' defence failed to handle a low cross from the left channel. The ball ping-ponged off the feet of several players before falling to Sesinyi. The forward easily teed up Township Rollers midfielder Mosha Gaolaolwe, and the Somalia defence watched helplessly as the on-rushing midfielder fired a hard shot past Jama to make it 2-0 for the southern Africans.

In the 72nd minute, Botswana pulled further away when Kabelo Seakanyeng made it 3-0 from the penalty spot after Abdi Salim was adjudged to have fouled substitute Tumiseng Orebonye.

Sakariya Hassan, who ran into the box unopposed in the 46th minute after cutting into the half-space from the left wing and curling a right foot shot past Phoko, gave Somalia a complete comeback two minutes later.

The goal proved to be the last meaningful action of the match as Botswana held on for a 3-1 win, which put them and the other four teams in Group G—Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, and Mozambiqu—on six points.

However, with Uganda hosting Algeria in Kampala later tonight and Guinea hosting Mozambique in Morocco, the five teams could potentially further separate, despite the group remaining open.

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