About two weeks back, newly appointed Zebras coach, James Butler, unveiled the provisional squad that will face Burundi in the preliminary stages of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Most of the players in the team are relatively new and have never experienced rigorous and ruthless international football.
Coach Butler even went to the extent of calling-up players from the lower division; players with no experience of elite football. In the goalkeeping department he has called the trio of Noah Maposa, Kabelo Dambe and Mwampule Masule from Gaborone United, Platinum Stars and Township Rollers respectively. Before coach Stanley Tshosane left, Dambe was a regular feature in the national team, following Modiri Marumo’s retirement.
The problem with Dambe is that he has not seen much action at Platinum Stars where he has been warming the bench for almost three seasons. Maposa has been a regular at GU, but at national team level he mostly played for the under 23 that was coached by David Bright, and featured for the Zebras in just a few matches. Almost all of the eight defenders that Butler has called for camp are relatively new to international football except Moreetsi Mosimanyana. But even Mosimanayana was only regular about five years back at the national under 23 under David Bright. He has played very few matches for the senior national team. The Zebras have for years been known as a defensive team. Butler has done away with the core of that defense and they won’t be there to guide most of the youngsters currently in the team.
Now to the middle of the park; of the 14 midfielders in the camp it is only Jackie Mothatego, Sekhana Koko, Mogakolodi Ngele and Galabwe Moyana who have vast international experience. Others will just be looking forward to their debut. In the striking force, only Joel Mogorosi and Tebogo Sembowa know what it is like to compete in Africa’s tough terrains.
Even the technical team and the support staff are mostly new to managing the senior national team. Burundi on the other hand have called almost all their European based stars for the encounter.
Some football pundits, who preferred anonymity, told Sunday Standard Sports that the goings-on at the Zebras camp are worrisome. They are all in agreement that, while he had carte blanche to do as he pleases with the national team, Butler should not have made wholesale changes to the Zebras.
“The Botswana Football Association (BFA) should not have let the coach bring a relatively new team especially for big matches. Yes he should have made reinforcements in some areas but not to exclude all the great defenders. That’s not right,” they said.
They added that the BFA should have asked Modiri Marumo to come and guide the current goalkeepers, especially since Dambe is not playing at club level while both Masule and Maposa are yet to convince in the international stage. Another local coach lamented the recent developments in the senior national team. He said it was a big mistake to not call some players with vast experience.
“For years we had a great defender being Mompati Thuma. Though his days were numbered he was the core of the team. We had one great player, Obuile Ncenga, who was being groomed to take over from Thuma and he was getting there. All of a sudden all those players are not there and that is not taking us anywhere. I can bet with my last penny that we are going to be eliminated from the first whistle,” he said.
The coach added that when looking at the current national team call-up one would think that the Zebras were readying for a friendly match. He asked why Lemponye Tshireletso was left out when he has been scoring important goals.
“We all know that when the striking force is not doing well Tshireletso is always there to rescue us with his long range shots and free kicks,” he said.
The former coach even lamented the absence of Jerome Ramatlhakwane who is Botswana’s prized striker.
The current full Zebras squad in camp
Kabelo Dambe (Platinum Stars), Noah Maposa (Gaborone United), Mwampule Masule (Township Rollers).
Moreetsi Mosimanyana, Otaantshekela Mooketsi (BDF XI), Leutwetse Tshireletso, Obonye Moswate (Township Rollers), Gosego Gaotewe, Kaelo Kgaswane (Gaborone United), Gogontle Marumo (Uniao Flamengo Santos)
Jackie Mothatego, Kabo Rasuping, Karabo Phiri (Gaborone United), Sekhana Koko, Motsholetsi Sikele (Township Rollers), Ogomoditse Bauleni (Maun Tigers), Kabelo Seakanyeng (BDF XI), Keorapetse Seloiso (BMC), Tshiamo Moreetsi (Letlapeng), Mogakolodi Ngele (Platinum Stars), Ofentse Nato (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Galabgwe Moyana (Polokwane City), Lebogang Ditsele (Jwaneng Comets).
Bonolo Frase (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Senatla Molefhe (Uniao Flamengo Santos), Unobatsha Mbaiwa (BMC), Onkabetse Makgantai (Nico United), Kobamelo Kebaikanye (Township Rollers), Tebogo Sembowa (Gaborone United).