Monday, February 26, 2024

New look Zebras line up

When the line up of the national team, the Zebras, was announced last week by coach, Stanley Tshosane, the player many people are not familiar with is BDF XI’s Lemponye Tshireletso, who previously played for FC Palapye.

When Sunday Standard approached BDF XI coach, Stanley Mwaanga, he was not surprised at all for his call-up. Mwaanga said he knew the boy was going to be called and he regards him as the best ever player he has ever coached in his 15-year coaching career.

“To be honest, he is a rare player to find around. He has an excellent technique, exceptional passing, and accurate shooting, whether inside or outside the box and strong in the air. The boy normally plays as a winger but I use him as a striker and he has never disappointed as he has so far scored five goals,” Mwaanga said.

He said Botswana has found a gem so good that some people confuse him of being a foreigner because of the skills he possesses.

The squad is mainly made up of players from the junior national under 20 and Under 23. The only seasoned campaigner in the team is Mompati Thuma from BDF XI. He is the only one who was a regular member and even by the time most players showed signs of fatigue he stood strong and firm.

Those from the under 20 are Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele (Uniao Flamengo Santos), Kabelo Dambe (Township Rollers) and Ofentse Nato of Gaborone United.
Ngele has, of late, been a revelation and a fortnight ago he single handedly scored four goals against Extension Gunners.

Dambe, on the other hand, has a very bright future and is seen by many people as a replacement for Marumo in a few years’ time. His agility and height gives him an added advantage over other goalkeepers.

Nato, however, is the engine behind GU success. His robustness in the middle of the park and timely passes are some of his strengths. He has also won several Men of the Match awards for his team, GU.

From the under 23, it is Mmusa Ohilwe, Mosimanegape Ramohibidu (BMC), Noah Maposa, Gobonyeone ‘Shoes’ Selefa, Moemedi Moatlhaping, Kekaetswe ‘Mara’ Moloi (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Boitumelo Modisaotsile (GU), Kemmy Pilato (Gunners), Moreetsi Mosimanyana, Tebogo Sembowa (Notwane), Thebe Maiketso, Amos Godirwang and Kaone Molefhe (Township Rollers).

Ramohibidu, Maposa, Selefa, Moatlhaping and Mosimanyana are the only ones that have so far represented Botswana at full official international matches and they did not disappoint.

Other players still have to make their mark if they are to cement their places. They obviously face stiff competition from the former under 20 players and even those who were in the senior national team before, especially those based outside the country.
The surprise inclusion is that of Mpoeleng Mpoeleng of Notwane. Mpoeleng has been playing in the Premier League for quite sometime and rarely made it to the national team. Although it might be early, but the surprise exclusion from the team is former under 23 strong right back, Gabriel Bokhutlo and former under 20 midfeilder, Ntesang Simanyana.

Both players are the moving engines behind current GU success and they proved beyond reasonable doubt at youth international levels that they have what it takes to be great. Bokhutlo is one of the few that can easily overlap and recover quickly at the same time.
Simanyana easily takes on opposition midfielders and defenders and forces them to retreat to the box. Other players selected for the team are, Pontsho Moloi (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Malepa Bolelang (Ecco City Green), Barolong Lemmenyane, Mandla Mgadla (Mogoditshane Fighters) and Edwin Moalosi of Rollers.

The team is to play friendly games against Lesotho and Namibia in a few months.


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