Despite facing acute shortages of strikers, Botswana still has something to boast of.
The country is brimming with midfield talent. The midfield normally determines the outcome of most of the Premier League games.
Once a team controls the midfield, chances of wrapping up the game are high. Midfield competition has even spilled to the national team. Competition is so intense that some of the renowned faces in the national team are finding themselves watching the game from the bench.
Recently national team coach Colwyn Rowe introduced two new faces in the midfield. The duo of Dirang Moloi and Keoagetse ‘Barnes’ Radipotsane that plays for Notwane played beyond many people’s expectations, especially in the historic goalless draw against African champions, Egypt.
They played like seasoned players despite facing professional players who ply their trade in the elite European leagues. There were even rumours after the game that some talent scouts from overseas had shown an interest in both of them.
Moloi has a high work rate. Once in possession of the ball, he normally pushes forward to feed the strikers. Radipotsane, on the other hand, is more of a playmaker and a ball holder.
Once the damage is done that is when he slices through to launch his deadly pinpoint crosses to the strikers.
The two players also played an incredible role when their team lifted the annual Coca Cola cup. Notwane had gone for nine years without winning a cup.
Some of the midfielders that are causing havoc are Township Rollers’ Boitumeleo Mafoko, Gunners’ Tshepo ‘Talk Talk’ Motlhabankwe and Gaborone United (GU)’s Mosalagae ‘City’ Gaborone and Tshokolo Nkola of Ecco City Green.
Mafoko joined Rollers at the beginning of this season; he played for the Francistown-based side, Tasc. While at Tasc, little was known about Mafoko but the moment he joined Rollers, his name was on the lips of many soccer followers.
His role is more of a ball holder and he exploits open spaces. National coach Rowe noticed his performance and introduced him in the friendly game against Cameroon. He did not disappoint. He matched the swashbuckling Cameroonian players with ease.
Motlhabankwe, on the other hand, is currently seen as the best midfielder in the country because of the qualities he possesses. He is also one of the players not afraid of taking risks when going for the goal. No matter how strong the opponent he always finds his way past defenders to take long-range shots.
The game that many people remember him by is the COSAFA quarterfinal game against South Africa.
Botswana was playing a defensive game and South Africa was all out attacking.
When introduced, Motlhabankwe neutralised the South African midfield with his dazzling runs and hard but fair tackles. The game ended going into a penalty shootout which Botswana won.
After the game, he was linked to one of South African topsides, Supersport United. Currently, he is the anchorman at Gunners and when he is not around the team struggles dearly.
Gaborone, on the other hand, has developed into a complete player who can control the midfield. He was also just an unknown player when he joined GU from Wonder Sporting Club.
Some people are even calling for his inclusion into the national team.
Some of the talented midfielders include the likes of Tshokola Nkola, Tshepo ‘Schoolboy’ Molefhe (GU) and Kenny Ramodisa of BDF XI.
Just before the beginning of this season, two of the country’s great midfielders joined the professional ranks in South Africa. Phenyo ‘Mzambiya’ Mongala joined Silvers Stars while Mogogi Gabonamong joined Cape Town Santos. Maybe their migration could pave a way for other midfielders.