Thursday, April 15, 2021

BMC cradle produces players with immense talent

Perhaps, the memorable time for the Lobatse-based side, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Football Club was in 1996. That was when BMC, for the first time in their history, qualified for the finals of the lucrative Coca-Cola Cup, where they lost by two goals to eventual winners Township Rollers. BMC then had great players like Zambian international, Colleen Zulu, Buti Kgodungwe, Jack Gotlop, Leonard Msinamwa and Motswadi ‘Ten ten’ Motswadi.

Since then, BMC hovered either in the middle of the league table or at the bottom trying to avoid relegation to the First Division. At one time, BMC even found themselves relegated to the lower division, but it did not take them long before bouncing back.

Currently, BMC have a new crop of players with only a few faces of the old horses. Veterans at BMC include Motswadi and Offace Pitso. Youngsters at the club have even gone the extra mile by making their presence felt at national team level. More than half of the BMC squad plays for national teams, an achievement many teams rarely make. At Under 20 level, there is Lawrence Malope while at Under 23 there is the foursome of Mmusa Ohilwe, who is the captain, Mosimanegape Ramohibidu, Tumisang Sekanonyane and Thebe Maiketso. At the senior team level, there is Alex Matshameko, who has been there for quite some time. Malope was part of the team that did a sterling job during last year’s Council for Southern Africa Football Associations tournament in South Africa. Even though the team did not progress to the semi-finals, they scored one of their highest number of goals in the tournament’s history and a Botswana player, Tebogo Sembowa, emerged the top goalscorer.

This year, Botswana’s Under 23 made history by bowing out in the late stages of the All Africa Games and even qualified for the group stages of the Olympic Games that will be held in Beijing, China, next year. The Under 23 also made history by walloping African soccer powerhouses like Angola and Tunisia in the full presence of BMC players. BMC players played a vital role in all the games, especially Ohilwe, who showed maturity and leadership skills in all the games while playing at the back. Ohilwe was the heart of defence and has built confidence among many soccer followers in the country. If he concentrates and does not get big-headed, he is destined to go places where many have failed.

Ramohibidu can be remembered for the Tunisian game, which Botswana won 1-0 at the National Stadium. It was one of the games he flashed his true colours when he tamed professional dangerous strikers throughout the game. Other people thought it was just a fluke and that he would fade way but he soldiered on until the final whistle.

Sekanonyane also played a pivotal role in recent games, especially against Angola when Botswana won 2-0. He does not have a big body but he made sure the gigantic Angolan strikers were kept at bay. Maiketso, on the other hand, is seen as a future Zebras right winger because his speed is unbelievable. He contributed immensely to several goals Botswana scored.

But Matshameko has seen little action at the senior team as he is always on the bench. The reason he is never dropped from the team shows that he is a quality player and has certain qualities the coaches need. In the few games he played, he did not disappoint and used his towering height to disadvantage strikers.

Currently at BMC, Matshameko and the youngsters are fighting hard to help their team finish in a reputable position. The team even stands a chance to win the league championship provided they win most of their remaining games and the three teams ahead of them, Ecco City Green, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and BDF XI somehow falter.

BMC has also been running their youth structures for a long time, and that could be the reason they produce many good youngsters. BMC also does not have a culture of recruiting players from other teams. Most players they have came thorough the development ranks to replace the fading or retiring ones. Even veteran Motswadi started playing for BMC Under 17 until he was promoted to the senior team.


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