Returning Zebras soldiers
by Tshepho Bogosing
A few years ago, several local players made it to the highest paying ranks of the South African Premier League and even those in the First Division in good numbers.
This was mainly because teams were taking note of the country’s heroic performance in the African continent.
For instance, Botswana’s national Under 23 team, under the tutelage of Major David Bright, made historic progression by qualifying for the group stages of the Olympics. The team did not only make up the numbers but fiercely competed even though they ended being pipped by Cameroon for qualifications.
The team nearly made it to the 2007 All Africa Games but, unfortunately, they lost the last match against South Africa.
In addition, the senior national team started showing some signs of improvement and nearly qualified for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. Local players then started slowly making it to South Africa.
It started with Diphetogo Selolwane, Mogogi Gabonamong, Phenyo Mongala, Moemedi Moatlhaping, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Boitumelo Mafoko and Modiri Marumo.
Even coach Major Bright left local scenes to coach Premier League side, Cape Town Santos. He ended up at First Division side, Bay United. He is now back home at Gaborone United.
Some local players are coming back home one by one and fail to find new clubs in the just started season. Some of the players that are back home are the likes of Phenyo Mongala, Boitumelo Mafoko, Jerome Ramatlhakwane and Moemedi Moatlhaping.
It is quite surprising, considering that the above mentioned players have impeccable international experience that would make it easier for them to fit in any team.
On the other hand, coach Major Bright is not surprised by the return of the players saying that South African football is full of politics.
“These players that are back home are the cream of the country that helped the country to qualify for 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. When given a chance, they played well at their respective teams. Definitely lack of performance is out but the way I see it is politics. The South Africans believe that their league is contributing to the improved performance of the senior national team. That is not the case; our league has been growing over the years and even internationally we were doing well,” he said.
Bright also alleged that management of several teams is influencing their coaches to drop certain players. He gave the example of Moatlhaping who was on pre season training with his team, Bay United.
Bright said Moatlhaping was on the coach’s plan for the coming season only to be told later that he is not wanted.
Bright emphasized that even some of the local players that recently joined the Premier League teams are going to encounter frustrations along the way.