A final list of 29 players, who made it into camp ahead of the New Zealand clash on June 6, has been released and it is full of surprises.
Two of Ecco players, Oaitse Ntesang and Bonolo Fraser, have finally impressed the national team coach and were duly called to camp to prove their mettle.
Fraser has been having a season of his own, in the process scoring regularly for his side and it was only right that he be called, while little is known of Ntesang.
However, the well-built youngster has been impressive in the left back position. His physique primarily makes him stand out among other left backs and his inclusion comes at the expense of Bashin Modisaotsile.
Despite Gaborone United occupying top of the be Mobile log, only Ofentse Nato, made it to the final list for the team.
Once again, Joseph Phetogo has been left out. It is understood that a recurring injuring is what cost him a place. It also appears that Stanley Tshosane favors the partnership of Musa Ohilwe and Mompati at the heart of the rear guard. The team’s strength has always been its defence but two of its regulars, Ernest Amos and Tshepho “Talk Talk” Mothabankwe, seemingly, will never don the national team colours again.
While Amos has found a replacement in Ohilwe, filling Talk Talk’s boots is proving to be a tall order, one that is expected to continue giving the coach a headache.
In one of the recent friendlies against Namibia, Gobonyeone Selefa was tried in the position but is understood not to have impressed. This certainly has cost him a place in the team. He has also been unimpressive in his preferred role, central defence, the few times he was given a run by his own club.
The right back position might subsequently become Mpoeleng Mpoeleng’s. Tshosane told Sunday Standard that he is still to find a right back, adding that he cannot use Thuma in the role as he is by far the most effective player in the center.
According to Tshosane, the lanky star covers more ground than any other defender; he said that the player has grown more secure with their partnership with Ohilwe.
All South African based players, except Jerome Ramatlhakwane, have thus been called.
This season has been a success story for South African-based players. Gabonamong at some stage was voted Player of the Month and is captain of his side.
Selolwane too has played glowingly well in a rather unfamiliar mid-field position. Tshosane also hinted the player had been called in that capacity. Selolwane’s absence upfront has often spelled no goals for the Zebras but not anymore it seems.
Samuel Ramosweu, with his vast experience, is expected to gel with Mogakoldi Ngele.
Another sensational player in the mould of Phenyo Mongala has finally been recognized. Currently he is the most sought after player in SA and deservedly so. While this has been some season for the dreadlocked star, it remains to be seen if he will honour the call.
Memories of the treatment he got from the Botswana Football Association when he sustained an injury while on national duty might prove a too-hard a thing to forgive.
His club, Pretoria University, also might be reluctant to release him as they have had to bear all his medical expenses for an injury that happened away from their team.
Dirang Moloi makes his return to the national team after falling victim to football politics and subsequent starvation of play. He is not alone though; he is accompanied by another promising young star, Galabgwe Moyana, who is fast emerging as a key figure at Notwane.
In the immediate Zebras history, no coach has had a player of his caliber – an inside left. Moyana has a powerful swerve and the ability to delay balls allowing players coming from the deep to time their runs. His powerful corner kicks position him as a firm favourite in the starting eleven.
For the first time, form seems to be used to pick players, something which has not happened in the past.
However, there are still some individuals who have been glaringly ignored. Thebe Maiketso and Mandla Mgadla are good players and they have age in their favour too. But the greatest injustice has been done to Sekhana Koko. None of the above players come closer to him.
On two occasions, South African teams have been in Botswana and got a favourable impression of the torrid Koko.
Bloemfontein Celtics showed interest in the winger last year and, recently, Jomo Cosmos were reportedly interested. On this, Tshosane rightly said he needs to call players he can account for, further explaining that calling a player who hardy features for his own team can come back to haunt him. He argued that when the player fails to perform, the coach shoulders as much blame as he gets for leaving him out of the team.
Thabo Motang, who is responsible for the goalkeeping department, has also elected to ignore Botlhe Moralo.
Kabelo Dambe is undoubtedly a good goal keeper but has set on the bench for most of the season and, in the few times he has featured, he did not look at all impressive yet there is Moralo, who has been in scintillating form for his team.
Goalkeepers: Dambe, Noah Maposa, Modiri Marumo, Barolong Lemmenyane
Defenders: Thuma, Ohilwe, Mosimanegape Ramoshibidu, Moreetsi Mosimanyana, Ntesang
Midfielders: Boitumelo Mafoko, Kemmy Pilato, Nato, Mpoeleng, Amos Godirwang, Gabonamong, Dirang Moloi, Moyana, Selolwane, Fraser, Mgadla, Maiketso, Lemponye Tshireletso, Mongala
Strikers: Malepa Bolelang, Ngele, Moemedi Moatlhaping, Ramosweu, Pontsho Moloi, Mokgathi Mokgathi.