There used to be very few excellent goalkeepers in Botswana and that used to be a very worrisome issue, especially for the national team.
When the first choice goalkeeper was absent, due to either suspension or injury, the reserve keeper would struggle.
From the days of Sam Sono to Mooketsi ‘China’ Mading and Thabo Motang, there was only one reliable goalkeeper.
Things have, however, changed drastically because there are many excellent goalkeepers in the Premier League.
This means competition for the first choice national team jersey will be intense because many will be vying for it.
It does appear as if it will not be much of a problem to replace ageing current first choice goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo.
Before he himself got the number one Zebras jersey, Marumo had to struggle and at one stage former national Zebras coach, Jelussic Vesselin, had headaches in selecting the number one goalkeeper between Marumo and prematurely retired, Kagiso Tshelametsi.
Both use to commit basic errors that cost the national team dearly.
Marumo, however, managed to soldier on and ended up improving drastically.
What is so interesting nowadays is that those goalkeepers that are so excellent are still young, meaning they can play for many years to come since goalkeepers mature with age and can play up to the age of over 40. Some of the excellent goalkeepers are Noah Maposa (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Kabelo Dambe, Mampule Masule (Township Rollers), Botlhe Moralo (Notwane) and Emmanuel Tlhakadu of Gaborone United.
Maposa has played for almost all junior teams and is already the second choice at the national team. If he cannot pull up his socks youngsters will depose him of his jersey.
Dambe is seen by many people as the next national team first choice because he possesses all the qualities needed of a goalkeeper and is currently the first choice for the Under 23 after playing for other junior national teams.
He has a height and good reflexes and agility. He has already been to trials at certain teams in the South African Premier League.
Masule on the other hand has just come under the spotlight after playing few matches for Rollers following Dambe’s suspension.
The young lad, who is the first choice for the national Under 20, showed a character of a mature goalkeeper with the skills he possesses. He is touted to take over from Dambe.
Moralo and Thakadu have never played for junior national teams but have shown that they mean business in between the posts.
Moralo has even played for the senior national team once.
Township Rollers, and national team goalkeeper coach, Thabo Motang, told Sunday Standard that the reason more excellent goalkeepers are coming up compared to the previous years is because most retired goalkeepers have turned into goalkeeper coaches.
“Previously in Botswana we did not take seriously specialized areas like goalkeeping. But now most retired goalkeepers are taking a keen interest on the job. Definitely that is why we are producing many excellent goalkeepers and many more will come,” he said.
Motang also added that the fundamental element in producing good goalkeepers is talent identification and then doing what is needed by the goalkeeper.
“Once good talent identification is there, we will not go wrong in developing it. The main problem is that teams do not go out to rural areas to identify talent but only let players come for junior national teams’ trials. If Premier League teams were all over the country looking for better players this soccer in this country could in good hands.
Gaborone United caretaker coach, Letang Kgengwenyane, echoes Motang’s words saying Botswana is heading to a situation whereby there will be an excess supply of goalkeepers. He said it is good for the country because competition will be stiff.
Kgengwenyane, however, decried inadequate coaching courses for goalkeepers’ coaches.
“There are more former goalkeepers who want to venture into the goalkeeper coaching but they are let down because courses are not enough. But hopefully, as time goes on, more courses will come,” he said.