Thursday, January 21, 2021

Masters of long range thunderballs

Football nowadays is all about tactics and how the players coordinate and react to such tactics. Once players understand the tactics well and execute them with utmost excellence, the chances of an opposition to stand in the way are minimal.

In some cases there are situations where by the opposition teams have a very strong, solid and impregnable defence. Normally, the tactic to open up such defence from many coaches would be to take on goals from the distance. Just like in other specialisation areas in the field of play shooting from long range requires effort and skill and it is not just any player who can do that.
Internationally, a renowned player who rarely misses from long range shots is Manchester United’s midfield anchor, Paul Scholes.

In Botswana, only a few players can do that. Some such players are Michael Mohaladi, Tshepo Motlhabankwe (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Tiroyamodimo Mohambi (Gaborone United), Tebogo Sembowa, Barnes Radipotsane (Notwane) and Amos ‘Shoes’ Godirwang of Township Rollers.
The most recent long range and best goal from Mohaladi was against Extension Gunners in the opening league encounter.

Mohaladi scored the opening goal about twenty five meters from the box. The ball was a powerful grass cutter which Gunners goalie failed to deal with. Mohaladi’s goal would then open the floodgates because Chiefs went on to win the game 4-1. He might not have scored a similar goal in the national team, but he once did just that last season while in the colours of South African Premier League club, Maritzburg United.

Motlhabankwe, on the other hand, has scored most of the long range shots on many occasions in the domestic league, the latest being in the finals of the Coca-Cola Cup against Uniao Flamengo Santos. Motlhabankwe also once nearly broke Angolan hearts at the 2004 COSAFA Castle match in Luanda from a free kick. After the Angolans took the lead early in the first half, Motlhabankwe pulled one back to level the matters. Unfortunately for Botswana, the Angolans went on to win on penalties.

Mohambi is also one player who, since during his time in the junior teams, always scores many goals from deadly shots.

One memorable incident for him was way back in 1996 while still a student at Makhubu Junior Secondary School in Selibe-Phikwe. Makhubu were playing against Merementsi junior Secondary School of Mmadinare. He unleashed a long range thunderbolt which Merementsi defender tried to deal with but it ended up hitting him below the belt. The player had to spend several weeks in hospital recuperating.
Even during his times at Satmos, Mogoditshane Fighters and Gunners, Mohambi scored several of his goals from long range.

Twenty-three-year-old Sembowa is proving to be a deadly player from long range.
One player who could attest to that is Mochudi Centre Chiefs goalie, Noah Maposa. Two season ago while at Ecco City Green, he unleashed a scorcher at the National Stadium and Maposa only heard ECCO City Green supporters celebrating.

Also last season during the Under 23s’ Eight Nations’ tournament in South Africa, he scored a long range goal against China. That was the game in which Sembowa actually launched his career in Botswana football.

Radipotsane, on the other hand, is one player who can single-handedly hold Notwane together when the going gets tough.
He has scored many crucial goals from a distance and is mainly deadly on set pieces.
Then there is Godirwang who is also a player who does not waste chances once given the opportunity. He made a name for himself last year during the Under 23 Four Nations Tournament in China which Botswana won.

In one of the games against Japan, in which Botswana were under intense pressure for the most part, he was the man who raised high the Botswana flag by unleashing a terrific shot. Botswana caught Japan on the counter and many Japanese players who gave the chase thought Godirwang would lay the ball to his compatriot but he went for goal instead.


Read this week's paper