By Anita Rannoba
Batswana will have a crystal ball peep into the future of their national team when the Zebras take on Angola in the last fixture of the Afcon 2019 qualifiers.
With nothing to lose following their failure to qualify for the continental showpiece, which resulted with the departure of head coach Major David Bright, interim head coach Mogomotsi Teenage Mpote has now assembled a youthful side for the Zebras’ last assignment.
Mpote’s youthful 24 man squad, seen as vibrant, is already eliciting excitement with many regarding it as the future Zebras.
Making the majority of the team are players who did duty for Botswana in the national Under 23 set up last year.
Of the eleven players in the starting line up when the Under 23 lined up against Malawi last year, only four being Thomas Manyelela, Goitseone Legopelo, Tshepo Malgas and Kago Monyake have not been called.
The other seven players, being Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, Mothusi “Mini” Cooper, Gape Mohutsiwa, Thato Kebue, Mothusi Johnson, Mpho Kgomo and Mothusi Johnson have all got a call up. Brian Mankanku and Alford Velaphi complete the names of the members of the same Under 23 team who have made the grade.
In the goalkeeping department, Mpote and his technical team have opted to drop the experienced South African based duo of Kabelo Dambe and Mwampole Masule in favour of the youthful pair of Keeagile Kgosipula of Township Rollers and the inform Ezekial Morake of Jwaneng Galaxy.
Aside from the mentioned few, the Zebras interim gaffer has also called into camp other players who have not been capped at the senior national team level.
During an interview the interim head coach Mpote explained that the absence of the well known senior players is to pave way for youngsters to prove themselves.
Highlighting that his aim is to teach them to be depend on themselves and also get the feel of participating in major tournaments like Arica Cup of Nations (Afcon) an CAF Confederations Cup
“This is our transition, the future of Botswana they are the best. This is the team to bet on from now till further. I want them to learn to live without their older brothers and be independent,” Mpote clarified
The same views were shared by local football writer and analyst Bongani Malunga who said the squad is impressive, clearly formed and said relevance was used to gauge those good enough to make the squad.
While highlighting it would have been wise to add a few experienced players in the team, Malunga said the arrival of the youthful players will usher a new era for local football.
Malunga said an addition of experienced players to the team would have been of benefit for the youthful players as international football is different to what they have been exposed to and they need a helping hand to carry them along.
He opined that players like Joel Mogorosi, who is the leading goal scorer in the Botswana Premier League, should have been included.
Malunga said Mogorosi, who has also scored more goals for Zebras than anyone else in the last 3 years, would have been very useful to the youthful team.
“I think this team is capable of carrying the nation’s hopes for the next 5 to 10 years if the players maintain their form also having two or three experienced players a successful national team is one which blends youth and experiences. One can cannot exist without the other, there has to be a balance,” Malunga said.
The complete team is as such;
GOALKEEPERS : Keeagile Kgosipula (Rollers), Ezekiel Morake (Galaxy), DEFENDERS : Thatayaone Ditlhokwe (Rollers), Thato Kebue, Fortunate Thulare, Thabo Leinanyane, Kitso Mangolo (All from Galaxy), Mothusi Johnson (Orapa United), Alford Velaphi (Gaborone United), Lesenya Ramoraka (Highlands Park, South Africa) MIDFIELDERS: Segolame Boy, Gape Mohutsiwa, Mothusi Cooper (Rollers) Lebogang Ditsele, Thero Setsile, Gilbert Baruti (Jwaneng Galaxy), Gofaone Mabaya (Orapa United), Phenyo Serameng (BDF XI), Mpho Kgomo (Police XI), Brian Mankanku (Extension Gunners) STRIKERS: Omaatla Kebatho (Orapa United), Tumisang Orebonye (Township Rollers), Kitso Mpuisang (Prisons XI) and Onkabetse Makgantai (Baroka FC, SA).