Gaborone United (GU) striker, Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping, has expressed delight at being reinstated to the team after being out of contention for almost 10 weeks.
A dip in form at the start of the season had consigned the lanky striker to a session in the stands.
To the dismay of GU supporters, he was then put on the transfer list alongside second-choice goalkeeper, Kagiso Tshelametse, when the transfer window opened last month.
While Tshelametse moved to join his childhood side, FC Satmos, Moatlhaping continued to train with the club.
Reports of a clash and resulting fall-out between the striker and head coach, Major David Bright, fed speculation that Moatlhaping was no longer wanted at GU.
Meanwhile, struggling giants Extension Gunners tried in vain to lure the striker to Lobatse but they were discouraged by the large amount GU demanded for his transfer.
On January 30, a day before the transfer window closed, Moatlhaping was still missing from the team sheet, leading to many of his fans worrying about his future.
Moatlhaping was surprisingly drafted into the starting line-up ahead of GU’s game against Uniao Flamengo at Molepolole Sports Stadium last Friday.
GU supporters gave him a standing ovation as he emerged from the dressing room and his every touch was cheered on by fans who had missed the towering forward’s presence in the team.
Moatlhaping did not score in the game but gave a five-star performance throughout the 90 minutes.
GU ran riot, thumping Santos 4-0 in a game in which Kgololo Leteane scored a brace, the other goals coming from Tebogo Sembowa and Ronald Chikomo.
At the end of the game, Bright praised the forward, saying that he brought a lot of difference to the team.
“Jomo is an experienced player and he worked hard tonight. We’ve been impressed by his attitude in training and obviously he’s going to help us going forward,” said Bright.
Moatlhaping did not want to dwell much on the reasons that led to his omission from the team for much of the season.
“I’m delighted that I was given a chance tonight. All I want to do is to continue working hard. I tried my best today though my fitness was questionable having been out for long. All this time I stayed positive and I did not let the negative stuff which was said in the media distract me. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me while I was not playing,” said Moatlhaping.
He pointed out that the technical team told him not to put himself under unnecessary pressure and he listened to that counsel.
He said his focus was now to help the team get a positive result away to Supersport United in the Caf Confederations Cup in Attridgeville, Pretoria on Saturday night.
“We are ready to go out there and get a result. It is not going to be an easy game but the boys are geared up for the challenge. Supersport is a tough side but we need to have belief and not idolize them because we see them on television every week,” he said.
GU leave for South Africa tomorrow morning and are expected back home on Sunday afternoon.