Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A gentleman of the game quits the Zebras

Those who know him say that Letsholathebe is fun to be around, a leader and gentleman of the game who will be solely missed by the Zebras. Those who are against his retirement believe that he should have carried on guiding the upcoming youngsters. But if there is a team which will be pleased to hear about his retirement is his club BDF XI.

Letsholathebe played his last game for the Zebras in a 3-3 draw against Lesotho at the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup last month in Zambia coming on as a substitute. Little did most people know that it was the last time they would see him in national colours. He was criticized alongside team skipper Mompati Thuma for granting Lesotho a last-gasp equalizer which affected the team’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages. But those close to the towering BDF XI defender disclosed that the retirement was long coming as he was not pleased by the continuous criticism he has been getting from some of the Zebras’ supporters and the media.

At the press conference on Wednesday, Tshosane said that Letsholathebe has long wanted to quit international football but they convinced him to stay put. The reason the technical team asked him to continue playing was due to his experience in international football. After the 2012 African Nations Cup in Gabon, Letsholathebe was amongst the players who decided to leave international football after clashing with the Botswana Football Association (BFA) over remunerations.

Six months down the line he returned to the Zebras’ fold until recently. But he has always been under pressure with some supporters feeling that he should pave way for the new blood. But at the age of 30 he is still considered amongst the youngest defenders in world football.

It is for this reason that it is shocking to hear some people saying that he is over the hill. But Tshosane said that they had no choice but to respect his decision of quitting the game considering that they are the ones who urged him to continue.

Gaborone United (GU) David Bright was shocked that Letsholathebe has quit international football.
“He is still young; I fail to understand why he would leave but it is important that we respect his decision of quitting. In any case retirement is forced by a number of reasons. Since he has been criticized of late maybe he was not strong enough to handle the pressure from football people. But he needs someone to talk to him about the decision but like I said it has to be respected,” said Bright.

Former Zebras’ manager Maitumelo ‘Junior’ Letlamoreng shared the same sentiments with Bright that his retirement has come early. Letlamoreng feels that the experience Letsholathebe has gained over the years was going to rub into the youngsters in the team.

“At the same time his performance in recent games for the national team was disappointing. Maybe it is for this reason that he decided to call it quits,” pointed out Letlamoreng.

Radio Botswana (RB 1) sports presenter Tiroyaone Lepotokisi said it was sad to see Letsholathebe quitting because he was a true leader. He hinted that maybe his decision to quit was forced by the pressure he has been under from the football fraternity but maintains that it came early.

“Most people felt that he was erratic hence the team was conceding lots of goals. But that was mainly because he was involved in lots of battles in the field of play hence he was at times exposed. I’ve travelled with the national team over the years and I think he is a true role model,” Lepotokisi said.

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Sunday Standard August 9 – 15

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 9 - 15, 2020.