The transfer window has once again come and gone. Just as was the case in the previous ones, it had its ups and downs among many local teams. Generally, it came as a shock to the country as a whole because signings were mainly done locally and no local players signed for a team outside the country.
After impressive performances by the national teams, especially the national Under 23 and the senior team, there were expectations in the country for many local boys to make it outside the country, particularly in South Africa. Even the much talked about move by BDF XI and national team goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo, to an Egyptian Premier League club, looks to have hit a snag. This means Marumo has to wait for May and anything can happen in that time meaning the chances of his going hang in the balance.
Botswana’s national Under 23 team caught the eyes of many people around the globe by qualifying for the group stages of the Olympic qualifying matches and by reaching the finals of the Sasol Eight Nations tournament in South Africa last year in June. Latter on, the team went on to win the Four Nations tournament in China, a tournament graced by South Korea, China and Japan.
The national team, on the other hand, managed to hold African champions Egypt to a goalless draw in Gaborone only to lose the second round by a goal in the dying minutes of the encounter. One would have thought the string of good performances might lead to a migration of many local players. Although there were rumours that some players were targeted by certain teams nothing came up.
Players, like goalkeeper Noah Maposa, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, Dirang Moloi and Joel Mogorosi, were the ones that were certain to leave the country.
Ramatlhakwane even went for trials at Cape Town Santos which is coached by his former coach at the national Under 23, Major David Bright. He has since come back to help his team, Mochudi Centre Chiefs, win their first ever league championship. The same Ramatlhakwane went to Cyprus last transfer window but came back after failing to impress.
Mogorosi also once had a short stint in Cyprus only to come back to Rollers. Moloi tasted Cypriot soccer but never played competitively. Rollers striker Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping also once played for South Africa’s Premier League side, Silver Stars, for a few months only to come back after what looked like a promising career.
Currently there are only two local players in South Africa’s Premier league, Mogogi Gabonamong and Diphetogo Selolwane. Phenyo Mongala, Michael Mogaladi and Joseph Phetogo are in the First Division. Many countries are always praising Botswana for good performances but the question is why many players can’t make the grade outside the country.
Another question is whether our players are really not good enough to play in very competitive leagues or many countries are just shunning Botswana for being a minor country. Former Tasc player and coach, Teenage Mpote, disagrees. He told Sunday Standard that Batswana should just exercise patience and things will fall into place soon. He said Botswana gained mileage for having drastically improved.
“We are just starting and sooner most of our players will not only be playing in South Africa but around the world as well. If you look at our neighbours, South Africa, they had only a few players before they won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996. Sooner players like Philemon Masinga and Lucas Radebe left. Those who followed did not have it easy but they ended up going outside the country in their numbers. This is what is happening to us; we are just starting and it is not easy for our players to excel outside the country,” said Mpote, who is now coaching Serowe side Miscellaneous.
Mpote said when players go for trials, it depends on what the coach wants. He said others prefer good finishers while others want defence penetrators. “If you look at players like Ramatlhakwane, it’s not like he failed in South Africa. He is a kind of players who can run and is tough for that matter. But he can score one of five opportunities at his disposal. Other South African players, like Shane Magrecor, who once played for Chiefs, were very slow and weak but would score five goals from five chances. Maybe Santos wanted someone strictly for scoring,” he said.