Thursday, October 28, 2021

Butler backs Kebatho despite performance slump

National team coach Peter James Butler has reaffirmed his trust in Omaatla Kebatho, though the young striker has been firing blanks at struggling South African First Division side Vasco da Gama. 

Kebatho is a key member of the Zebras squad, but the 22 year old’ s future at Vasco da Gama looks bleak as he has not been scoring any goals in the South African National First Division league. Vasco da Gama fans have been yearning for Kebatho to replicate the exciting performance that he put up last year at Sankoyo Bush Bucks and the national team, but the top striker has not been able to live up to the task. After 13 games into his professional career at the Cape Town side, Kebatho has managed to score just one goal this season. His only goal came in January during a 1-all draw against Thanda Royal Zulu. 

Despite his poor showing at club level, the national team striker is expected to lead the Zebras attack in the 2017 home and away Afcon qualifier against Comoros this month. Before his move to South Africa a year ago, Kebatho impressed by scoring for the Zebras at the COSAFA Senior Challenge in South Africa; and netting a hat trick for the under 23 team in the Olympic qualifier against Kenya. Though the striker has found goals hard to come-by at Vasco da Gama, Butler believes he has what it takes to lead the Zebras to victory.

“I can’t judge Kebatho on the number of goals scored alone. It’s also important to consider his role and contribution to the whole team. I still have faith in the boy and I believe he is learning a lot in the South African semi professional league,” said Butler. 

He further said Kebatho’s performance may have been affected by an injury he suffered when the season started.

“He was sidelined by an injury at the beginning of the season. But he is a professional and I’m sure he will bounce back. He now plays in a different arena and sometimes it takes time to adjust,” said Butler. 

However, the national team coach said Kebatho will have to work extra hard to earn a place in the national team as competition has been heightened by the emergence of more strikers in the domestic league.

“Like everyone else, he is not guaranteed a place in the squad. Competition is intense at the national team and every player will have to fight for selection,” said Butler.
Vasco is perched in the relegation zone, fourth from bottom with 18 points apiece with African Warriors, who are third from bottom. Umthatha Bucs are second from the bottom with 17 points ahead of bottom placed Moroka Swallows who have 11 points. Vasco managed only four wins this season, losing 11 games and sharing the spoils on six clashes. They are still to play nine games before end of the season.



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