When the national football team left for Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday morning for an international friendly game against Iraq, a notable absentee from the 21-man squad was Bay United striker, Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping.
He will miss the opening 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic in Bangui on Saturday.
The lanky forward’s absence left football commentators wondering whether he has abandoned the Zebras or has just been dropped. Sunday Standard has since established that the former Township Rollers’ forward has been ruled out by an ankle injury.
Moatlhaping reported for camp in the past week with the injury he sustained in the South African First Division league clash against Blackburn Rovers last weekend. It was through the recommendation of the Zebras’ medical team that he was left out.
“I wanted to be part of the team which travelled, unfortunately this injury is unbearable. Even the Bay United medical team told me before coming here not to play in the upcoming qualifier. I’m hopeful that I’ll recover in time for the South Africa clash (June 9 in Gaborone) and if the technical team needs me then I’ll be available,” said Moatlhaping on Friday morning.
He further pointed out that he would never turn his back on the national team despite the problems they have encountered in the past.
Moatlhaping was one of the 12 players from the African Nations Cup (AFCON) called by coach Stanley Tshosane for the upcoming qualifiers. Meanwhile, at club level, Moatlhaping’ struggle to reach his peak level has left many people speculating that his move from Mochudi Centre Chiefs was ill-advised. After helping his side survive the dreaded relegation into the South African third tier, Moatlhaping said that he is looking forward to the new season.
“I want to put the just ended season behind me because I struggled to settle in. I think this is due to the fact that I joined the team midway through the season and it was difficult to fit, especially that the results were not coming,” said Moatlhaping.
In the nine games he has played for the Polokwane-based outfit, he has managed to score four goals, a fair return. However, he spent most of the time on the sidelines waiting for the work-permit after joining Bay United towards the end of the year.
A fortnight ago, Bay United coach David Bright said in a radio interview that he was worried by the sub-par performance of Moatlhaping.
“I understand his (Bright) frustrations because he brought me to the team knowing what I’m capable of doing. We talked about it and I have no doubt that next season things will be better,” he added.