He is considered to be the weakest link in the Zebras’ defence going into the African Nations Cup which kicks off next weekend. But the hard-working BMC left back Mosimanegape ‘Twizer’ Ramohibidu is not worried about what some of the supporters are saying. Instead, he is focused on helping the Zebras leave a lasting impression at the continental showpiece which starts in six days time, writes Sunday Standard sports journalist TSHEPO MOLWANE.
When Ramohibidu was picked ahead of Township Rollers’ Edwin Olerile at the start of the qualifiers in July 2010, most supporters pointed fingers at head coach Stanley Tshosane for being short-sighted.
At the time, most people, including some journalists, believed that Olerile was the best man for the problematic left-back position. Some commentators said that Ramobihidu does not give the Zebras options when going forward and at times he is exposed defensively, something which forces the two central defenders to do the cleaning up for him.
Tshosane did not listen to his critics and stuck with the Digawana-born defender who went on to feature in nine qualifying games. The BMC captain only missed the last game away to Togo when Olerile was given a run but could not finish the game because of injury.
As the Zebras jetted off to Cameroon on Tuesday for their last training camp before proceeding to Franceville, Gabon, Ramohibidu did not let his critics make him lose focus.
“People are entitled to their own opinions and I’ll not let that disturb me. The most important thing is that I’ve contributed to the success of the team in the qualifiers. I’ve not only been part of the team but played in nine games which is an achievement on my part. I’m proud to be part of the team which has made history by qualifying for the first time for the Africa Cup of Nations,” said Ramohibidu.
The 26-year-old defender believes that team work has worked wonders for the Zebras even when the odds were against them. He said that from the beginning, they wanted to qualify for the tournament even though they were involved in the most difficult group which included Tunisia, Togo, Malawi and Chad.
“If we did not believe in ourselves, we could have failed to qualify. It was a tough group but we managed to finish tops,” he said with a smile.
On the tournament, Ramohibidu is confident that they can pull out some positive results at the tournament. He warned their Group D opponents that they deserve respect and pointed out that they were not chosen 2011 CAF Team of the Year by mistake in the awards which were held in Ghana on December 22. ┬á
“We’ve gained enough experience during the qualifiers, which will help us in our mission. The good thing is that we no longer hero-worship our opponents; the players believe that this is the right platform to show the continent what we can do,” he said.
On the issue of the bonuses, which dominated the headlines before their departure, Ramohibidu said that they were not trying to be difficult like most people think but wanted what they deserve.
Ramohibidu added that they have agreed to put aside their differences with the Botswana Football Association and focus on doing the country proud at the games.
“Batswana must rest assured that we’re not going to embarrass them. We fought hard to be where we are right now and through their support, we’ll conquer. We’ve sat down with the technical team and promised them that we’ll compete strongly at the games,” he said.
The Zebras open the tournament with a tricky fixture against favourites Ghana in Franceville on January 24. Four days later, the local heroes will take on Guinea before finishing the group games against Mali on February 2 in Libreville.
“It’s going to be tough but we’ll have to go with the same approach which has made us qualify,” Ramohibidu concluded.