Although Botswana have thrice entered the FIFA World Cup preliminary stages, it took them nearly 11 years after playing their first match to register their first victory, a 4–1 victory in the African pre-preliminary qualifying rounds for Germany 2006 against Lesotho.
The southern African nation took part in their first preliminary competition for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA, where they faced Niger and Côte d'Ivoire. They managed a 0–0 draw with the latter in Gaborone but lost their other three matches, finishing last in their group.
The next competition they entered was for Korea-Japan 2002, where they faced Zambia in a two-legged tie to decide which team would advance to the group stages. Zambia won both matches to qualify, while Botswana were knocked out.
Recently Botswana had some poor results with the team losing 3–0 to Zambia and losing to second-string sides from South Africa and Zimbabwe at home in Gaborone, frustrating many supporters. In the first match in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Botswana drew at home with a Madagascar side ranked 146th in the world at the time, leading Botswana FA to sack manager Colwyn Rowe despite his leading Botswana to their highest ever ranking of 95th. BFA claimed this move was taken because they feared for his safety from angry fans. Stanley Tshosane was named as his replacement and in his first game in charge, Botswana achieved an impressive 2–1 win away to Mozambique to put them in a relatively strong position in their qualifying group; on their next fixture, they took everyone by surprise by holding Côte d'Ivoire to a 1–1 draw.