Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Coaches debate whether Marumo, Thuma still needed for Zebras

There is a Setswana proverb that says ‘Lethaku le lesha le agelwa mo go le legologolo’. This in football terms means that you cannot do away with experience when you built a very strong team.
Recently a new Zebras coach, James Butler was appointed to lead the mighty Zebras and make them a force to reckon with.
The Englishman immediately hit the ground running as the Botswana Football Association organised a friendly against lowly rated, South Sudan. Butler in turn announced his squad to face the South Sudanese.
Before he announced the squad he made it clear that he believed in youth and would draft many young players into the senior national team to help them for greater things.
Upon announcing his squad, there were some notable omissions like Township Rollers towering defender, Obuile ‘Oscar’ Ncenga and Mochudi Centre Chiefs versatile midfielder, Lemponye Tshireletso.
The two players were seen as progressive assets who were already rising to greater heights. On the other hand some very experienced veterans retired after 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for various reasons.
Some of those experienced veterans still active at club level is the duo of Modiri Marumo and Mompati Thuma. Since retiring from the National team, Marumo has been a regular feature for South African Premier League side, Polokwane City.
He started with them even when they were campaigning in the First Division, when they were known as Bay United. He is considered by many as one of Botswana’s best ever goalkeepers and at one stage he even played in Egypt for Premier League side, Harass-Elhadoud.
Like Marumo, Thuma has been a pillar of Zebras at the back for years and one of the most feared defenders. The duo played huge role in ensuring that the Zebras qualify for their maiden 2012 AFCON.
With the new coach in charge and building a new team, some people believe the new players need guidance and direction from very experienced players like Marumo and Thuma.
One local coach who preferred anonymity told Sunday Standard that building a new team is not an easy task. He said coaches should first start by players they find on the ground and take it from there.
“Players like Thuma and Marumo retired for their own reasons but lets’ be honest, they are still needed by our national team whether we like it or not. An easy example is of France national team. Several experience players retired after a new coach, Raymond Domenech took over. He believed he would build a solid team without experienced one. Guess what, they struggled to qualify and Domenech was forced to recall retired players like Lilian Thuram, Zenidene Zidane and Claude Makelele. After that they qualified and went all the way to the finals,” he said.
On the other hand, the technical officer at the Botswana Football Association, Philmon Makgwengwe did not want to say the duo should be included in the national team.
He said it is the coach’s job because he knows what he wants. Makhwengwe however stressed that the two players are still good on their own.
“Marumo is playing high level football and is an asset to this country. Just like other countries do he should not be lost to local soccer even when he retires. He is so valuable and his record speaks volumes,” he said.
On his part former Zebras coach, Stanley Tshosane, told Sunday Standard that each coach has his own philosophy and knows what he wants. He said there is no denying fact that the duo of Marumo and Thuma are great assets to the country but at the end of the day it is the coach’s decision.
“As the national we should always give the incumbent coach all the necessary support regardless of the players he selects because he knows what he is doing. When I took over I had a base to build on and Butler also has his own base,” said the first coach who took Zebras to their maiden AFCON in 2012.

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