Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Goalkeeping competition soars in the Premier League

It is only a matter of time before the senior national team’s first choice goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo, calls it a day. He is already in the twilight of his career and has served the nation with aplomb and distinction for more than 15 years.

It does, however, look like there will not be much of a problem in filling his shoes compared to the situation in past years.

There has been an emergence of good goalkeepers in Botswana and the competition for jersey number one appears more and more spellbinding in the country at present.

Gaborone United’s first choice goalkeeper, Noah Maposa, has been deputising Marumo for some time now and once given a chance he never disappoints.

Last year, in a friendly against Kenya, Marumo was injured in the encounter and Maposa, in turn, kept at bay celebrated Kenya strikers with his mighty saves.

Maposa is now seriously threatened by Township Rollers number one, Kabelo Dambe who has been outstanding for his club for almost four years now. He has also featured in all junior national teams.

Dambe is also equal to the task of being Botswana’s number one goal minder. He made a name for himself last year in a friendly match between Botswana and Nigeria that ended in a goalless draw.

When both Marumo and Maposa were injured for the encounter, Dambe was given the nod. He played his heart out and made many stunning saves to deny the much celebrated Nigerians a goal.

Many people were shocked that he is the third choice goalkeeper considering the fact that he played like a seasoned international.

Obviously now, the senior national team coach will have a headache in selecting his undisputed number one. As if that’s not enough, both Maposa and Dambe’s reserves at their respective teams are pushing them harder and they are of international pedigree.

Maposa’s reserve is Neo Kenalemang who also earned accolades from many people during last year’s COSAFA Under 20 tournament.

Dambe’s reserve is Mampule Masule who also does an excellent job whenever given a chance. Masule also played for junior national teams.

BDF XI’s Michael Pepukani has, in the past, been called to the Zebras camp but could not easily get into the final selection. He also does a marvelous job for his team and, if given a chance, might put those who are always called up under tremendous pressure.

On his part, football analyst, Fobby Radipotsane, told Sunday Standard that having many goalkeepers is very good for the country because they will always perform to their best. He said once tragedies in form of injuries and suspensions come, it would not be much of a problem.

“In the past, we used to have a huge problem when our first choice goalkeepers were injured but in coming years I foresee a situation where it will not be much of a problem. Whoever will be the coach’s number one will have to do more because he would know that other good goalkeepers are waiting on the sidelines,” he said.

Radipotsane gave the example of the likes of Mooketsi ‘China’ Mading and Thabo Motang who were excellent in their time but there was an outcry once they were injured or suspended.

Radipotsane, however, decried the situation saying more efforts should be done to develop other critical areas of football, such as the striking force. “What we see now are the fruits of hard labour from former goalkeepers. Most former goalkeepers are hands on but where are the former strikers? We used to have many good strikers and this is the time they should be producing good strikers with an eye for goal. The head coaches’ job is only to find the winning combinations,” he said.

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