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Themba Hadebe, Associated Press
Botswana's Jerome Ramatlhakwana, left, is challenged by Ghana's Anthony Annan, right, during their African Cup of Nations Group D soccer match at the Stade de Franceville in Franceville, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2012.

FRANCEVILLE, Gabon — Botswana captain Dipsy Selolwane sees no problem with the striking statistic that 16 of his teammates at the African Cup of Nations are only semiprofessional players. Rather, he calls it "our good luck charm."

Their desire to perform and possibly land a lucrative club contract attracted attention when they ended nearly 20 years of struggle by qualifying for the African Cup. Then Botswana gave a stirring performance in its opening game against the collective might and world-class individual talent of four-time champion Ghana.

Despite vast differences on paper, Selolwane says "on the pitch we're not far from those big guys."