Coach Colwyn is the toast of Botswana

COACH Colwyn Rowe is the toast of Botswana after leading the national team to their best-ever result.Former Ipswich Wanderers and Woodbridge Town boss Rowe, 50, inspired the Zebras to a goalless draw with holders Egypt in an African Nations Cup qualifier played in Gaborne on Saturday.

By Mel Henderson

COACH Colwyn Rowe is the toast of Botswana after leading the national team to their best-ever result.

Former Ipswich Wanderers and Woodbridge Town boss Rowe, 50, inspired the Zebras to a goalless draw with holders Egypt in an African Nations Cup qualifier played in Gaborne on Saturday.

The shock 0-0 scoreline earned Botswana their first point as they look to qualify for the finals to be staged in Ghana in 2008.

It also silenced Rowe's critics, many of whom never gave him a chance and were calling for his head soon after he replaced previous coach Veselin Jelusic.

A 4-0 defeat in Mauritania did not go down well, but Saturday's result sparked wild scenes in the capital and days later the party is still going strong.

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Rowe admitted: “I've never seen anything like it.

“We needed a result and I don't think the fans would have been any happier even if we had won the game.”

Botswana were rated no-hopers going into a game that Egypt, who included the Tottenham striker Mido in a strong side, were expected to win easily.

Mido and Co had chances to decide the game but a combination of their off-target finishing and the hosts' dogged defending kept the scoreline blank.

Ipswich-born Rowe said: “We rode our luck at times but we hung in there and worked incredibly hard for our point.

“Nobody gave us a chance but we had beaten Losotho 1-0 in a friendly last week and only lost 1-0 to Cameroon's Olympic team before that.

“I felt we could achieve something and there have been incredible celebrations over here ever since the final whistle.

“This ranks as a great achievement and people have been going wild. It clearly means a lot to the country.”

Rowe has forged a successful coaching career after representing Colchester and Gillingham as a player.

He was only appointed as Botswana's national coach in the summer after leaving his post as the national youth coach of Jordan.

While Rowe is abroad, wife Sue and their two sons, Jonathan and James, still live in Ipswich.

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