Mixed feelings over Ramatlhwana’s selection
by Tshepo Molwane
After Tshepiso ‘Sox’ Molwantwa and Diphetogo ‘Dipsy’ Selolwane, the scoring baton was handed to Ramatlhakwana with many people believing that he is the best thing to come out of the country. His scoring exploits at Mogoditshane Fighters and later Mochudi Centre Chiefs proved his worth something, which led to his move to Cape Town Santos in South African Premier League in 2008.
Things did not go according to plan as Ramatlhakwana did not feature much for the club. During 2008/09 season, Ramatlhakwana only featured in 15 games for Santos scoring only one goal which came in their 1-1 drawn game against Orlando Pirates. In those 15 games, he played for 583 minutes. He then spent the whole of 2009/2010 season without game time before being loaned out to rookies Vasco da Gama for the 2010/11 season. Things did not improve as he only featured in four games at Vasco against Moroka Swallows, Platinum Stars, Supersport United and Santos. In those games he scored two goals in 283 minutes he played. In total, he has played 866 minutes in three seasons which is very poor by any standard.
While he spent most of the time in South Africa inactive, Ramatlhakwana continued to feature regularly for the Zebras thus scoring some important goals along the way. It was his goal on July 1, 2010 away to Tunisia in the 2012 AFCON qualifier which gave the Zebras their famous win over the continental giants. It was a win which was celebrated so much in the country but did not receive that much attention in the continent as South Africa was hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ramatlhakwana scored five goals in total which helped the Zebras to qualify for their maiden appearance at the 2012 AFCON finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
At the tournament, Ramatlhakwana struggled to make an impression and left without scoring a goal as the Zebras returned home without a point in three games. When he returned to Gaborone, local clubs showed interest in signing him but he could not budge. According to reports, Ramatlhakwana was asking for unheard salary in local football while he remained hopeful that he would find a club in South Africa again. Pre-season has passed and South African Premier League is in its third week. The country’s golden boy has not found a club. Reports last week revealed that Ramatlhakwana has sneaked out of the country and he is training with his former club, Vasco da Gama as the First Division is yet to kick off. Whether he would sign there remains to be seen.
When the Zebras faced South Africa in the 2014 World Cup qualifier last month, most people complained about Ramatlhakwana’s lack of fitness. Throughout the game, he struggled even to have a shot at goal. Coach Stanley Tshosane was hammered to use him ahead of Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ goal machine Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi. Afterall, Mara was the Be MOBILE Premier League top scorer. But Tshosane decided not to say much about the situation.
In the build-up to Mali game, Tshosane is said to have hinted to his close allies that picking Ramatlhakwana in the future is going to be difficult as long as he remains unattached to any club. Surprisingly, when the team for Bamako trip was announced, Ramatlhakwana was in there. His inclusion has caused a serious debate amongst football lovers, especially on social networks. What confuses the football fraternity is that Tshosane once omitted Dirang Moloi from the squad saying that he is clubless and claimed that he picked players based on their performance. And now the question people are asking is whether JJ’s case is a special one.
In an interview with Sunday Standard on Friday morning, former Notwane marksman Brown Gasemotho said he does not have a problem with Tshosane calling Ramatlhakwana as long as he is delivering. But Gasemotho advised that the national team gaffer has to be consistent if he once left other players because they were clubless.
“Even Jerome is not right for him to stay home and just play for the national team. He has to find a club where he’ll regularly play,” said Gasemotho who was known for his scoring prowess when at Toronto in the 1990s and even the national team.
Former Zimbabwean international Fabian Zulu commented, “Stan (Tshosane) is contradicting himself because he once omitted other players when they were clubless yet we needed them. It goes to show that he favours other players to an extent of picking them when they do not have clubs.”
Botswana Television (Btv) sports presenter Aaron Radira said Botswana is not spoiled for choice when it comes to strikers unlike in other departments. “This is a problem which comes a long way hence Stan has picked Jerome. He might not have a club but he is currently the best striker in our country and he has delivered (in the past) under the circumstances,” said Radira. The Btv man shared the same sentiments with Gasemotho that being clubless does not help Ramatlhakwana.
Bobonong-based Peace Makers’ coach Edwin Masire said as a coach Tshosane knows what he wants from his players and Ramatlhakwana delivers when it comes to that. He said there is nothing wrong with the striker being included in the team since he has delivered over the years despite his situation in South Africa. “Mara (Moloi) is injured and the coach does not have any other options because (Tebogo) Sembowa has not been that consistent. At the end of the day, the nation demands results from Tshosane and he has to go with the players he feels will deliver,” pointed out Masire who played for the Zebras in the past.