It has been six solid years since Gaborone United (GU) last won the League championship. Since then, the Reds have blown hot and cold much to the disappointment of their passionate supporters. This season, things looked promising but like in the past campaigns, GU could only settle for a top four finish. Even though they clinched the Mascom Top 8 Cup, it is, however, the League championship which matters the most. If the Reds maintain the same squad, they stand a chance of winning the League next season. Sunday Standard journalist TSHEPO MOLWANE reviews the GU squad and the areas which need to be strengthened.
Interestingly, Gaborone United used four goalkeepers this season and they fared pretty well. While Kenalemang Neo was the first choice when the season kicked off, he had to give way to Goitseone Phoko following a head injury. Since then, Phoko has performed miracles in between the posts. When Phoko was shown a red card in their second round match away to Orapa United, Tshepo Mooketsi stepped in and did well in the two matches. Another youngster who has done very well is Tumisang Selolwane. Without doubt this is GU’s strongest department as proven by the 26 goals they have conceded in the League before last night’s match against traditional rivals Township Rollers. Credit must go to their goalkeeper trainer Thabo ‘Mahala’ Motang who has developed such admirable talent. With Phoko (20 years), Mooketsi (18), Neo (21) and Selolwane (18), this is their safest department for the next 10 years considering their ages. Rating: 9/10
The Reds need to do more introspection in this area, especially; central defence and right back positions. Whenever Gaopatwe ‘Shoes’ Seosenyeng or Thabiso ‘Miri’ Khunwane are injured or on suspension, there is crisis in the central defence. Veteran defenders Letsweletse ‘Ace’ Seane and Gobonyeone ‘Shoes’ Selefa have looked out of sorts when they were called for duty. The two defenders seem to have run their race at GU and need to be released to allow space for new blood. At right-back position, it remains a mystery why GU let go of Mpho Kgaswane in the past transfer window. He was doing well and giving Osego Gaotewe a tough competition. If Kgaswane’s release was outside football then it is a case for another day but it was a quite a bad mistake. At left-back, GU look balanced with captain Edwin Olerile and Gosegonna Molapisi. Rating: 5/10
The midfield is an area which is critical in any team. The Reds had one of the best defensive midfielders in the country considering the experience of Ofentse Nato and Alphonse Modisaotsile. They bossed some of the high-profile matches this season and with Nato coming to the end of his six-month loan from Indian Super League side Atletico de Kolkata, there is no doubt that Kabo Rasuping will come to the party. Though he has not featured this season, Rasuping is one of the best midfielders in the country. If Ntesang ‘Mirror’ Simanyana loses a few kilos in the next coming months, then there is no doubt that they would have one of the best creative midfielders. More so, Simanyana also has to work on his negative attitude which he has shown whenever he was substituted. It is on the right wing that the Reds have to bring another talented player who would add value to the team. Mandla Mgadla has failed to deliver this season but he is still one of the talented wingers in the country. If reports that GU are eyeing Nico United midfielder Onkabetse Mankgatai are true, then he is the kind of midfielder who would come and add flavour at the Reds. The likes of Jackie Mothatego and Powell Abednico are some of the players who can be released to go revive their careers elsewhere.
Ahead of their clash against Rollers last night, GU have rattled the net 40 times, 20 less than champions Mochudi Centre Chiefs. When the Reds won the League in 2009, they were ruthless in front of goal. This season they relied heavily on Namibian striker Benson Shilongo for goals which was not pleasing. Though they have not delivered up to the expectations, GU are blessed in this area. Ronald Chikomo, Shilongo, Tebogo Sembowa, Tendai Nyamadzawo and youngster Karabo Phiri are some of the finest scorers in the country. All GU have to do is to find the right combinations and goals will start raining. There is no need to bring another poacher.
There is need for continuity at the Reds. In the past, GU has been tremendously affected by unnecessary changes in the coaching department. Under normal circumstances, head coach Rahman Gumbo, assistant coach George Mogopodi and goalkeeper trainer Thabo Motang have done extremely well. They might not have won the League but they delivered the Mascom Top 8 Cup. The problem with the Reds is constant interference in the coaching department by some members of the executive committee. Gumbo is out of contract but the Reds must fight hard to keep him and his assistants.
The Reds have a strong squad to challenge for honours next season provided they bring a few reinforcements. There is no need for an overhaul like they did in the past. Another commendable attribute for GU is that most of their players are under the age of 25. The only problem can come only if GU membership decides to elect new committee members at the upcoming general assembly in July. Sometimes when new office bearers come in, they tend to make unnecessary changes which can cost the team at the end.