Sunday, September 20, 2020

Matshameko: the Zebras longtime bench warmer

Although it is a necessity to have reserve players in case of injuries, it is painful when you are always relegated to the bench. It is even more painful at the national team when newly introduced youngsters easily break into the first team leaving one sited on the bench as always. That is the situation with Zebras defender, Alex Matshameko. Matshameko has been in the national team for some time now but he rarely makes it to the first eleven. What is surprising is that he is never dropped, meaning that he has something special other players do not have.

“It is good to be in the national team for a long time but it is painful when you are always relegated to the bench. But at the end of the day, the decision lies with the coach. Even during the time of Vesselin Jelusic, I was always on the bench; now it is Colwyn Rowe and I am still on the bench,” he sad.

The BMC defender told The Sunday Standard that just like Vesselin, Rowe always tells him that as long as other defenders, like Mompati Thuma and Ernest Amos, are in form, it would not be easy for him to make it into the team. Towering Matshameko also lamented that when, at times, he makes it to the starting line up, he never disappoints. He says in the few games he was given a run, he played brilliantly much to the delight of the coach. The game that he remembers well was against Guinea last year, during the qualifications for both the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. Even though Botswana ended up losing the game 2-1, Matshameko says he played his heart out and even then coach Vesselin Jelusic praised him for a job well done. But after that he was relegated to the bench.

The question now is why he continues to be picked for the Zebras games only to be relegated to the bench. What is also astonishing about Matshameko’s situation is that he is never given a run in the friendly games against lowly placed Southern African teams like Namibia and Swaziland.

When Botswana beat Swaziland 1-0 towards the end of last year in a friendly game, Matshameko was also on the bench while several newcomers like Jerome Ramatlhakwane made it in the first team. Even when Botswana beat Namibia in a friendly last week new players, like Vincent Kgaswane Phiri, broke into the first team while Matshameko watched from the bench.

Matshameko is currently in scintillating form at his team BMC. He, however, says as long as he is picked he will continue to be patient and knows his chance will one day come.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.