Zebras coach Colywn Rowe’s preliminary squad that is scheduled to face South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the forthcoming Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) has once again attracted criticism from the media. During a press conference that Colwyn Rowe called to announce the squad on Thursday, the inclusion of certain players was questioned. Players whose inclusion members of the media questioned are Township Rollers striker, Onalethata Thekiso, Notwane midfielder, Dirang Moloi, and Uniao Flamengo Santos defender, Khumo ‘Shoes’ Motlhabane.
In the case of Thekiso, sports journalists believed that he has been given enough chances and believe it is time Rowe gave the chance to another striker. Thekiso is yet to register a goal in an international game and has been a culprit in most of the games he played. The notable games were against Angola in the COSAFA Castle Cup and against Mauritania in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in which Thekiso missed golden opportunities.
Moloi, on the other hand, has been inactive for sometime. It has, however, been revealed that he has not played for Notwane in the past few games for disciplinary reasons.
Meanwhile, Motlhabane incurred an injury that put him out of action for more than four months. He is also yet to play at his team.
Rowe said he selects players he sees as suitable to play for the Zebras and no matter how he is critisised he will stick to his guns. He told journalists that people might be writing off Thekiso but he sees a lot of potential in him. On Moloi, he made himself clear that he is a germ that needs to be taken care of.
“Everybody knows that Moloi is a valuable player, especially when facing tough opponents like South Africa and Egypt. His single touch or move can totally change the complexion of the game. If he has problems, there is no need for us as coaches to abandon him but to help. That young boy has great talent that everybody can see. I have to also say that I have never had a problem with Moloi because he is always punctual at training and he perfectly does whatever I ask him to do,” Rowe said.
On Motlhabane, Rowe reiterated his earlier statements that he is a unique player. Rowe said Motlhabane can play in many positions the coach assigns him to and always does his best. He added that what seperates Motlhabane from other players are his good character and his ability to take on the throw in balls.
After the South African game on September 29, Botswana will then prepare for an Africa Cup of Nations game away to Egypt in October.
The squad also sees the return of Mogogi Gabonamong and Moemedi ‘Jomo’ Moatlhaping. Gabonamong has been on self-imposed exile for some time. He last played for Botswana against Burundi earlier this year at the National Stadium. He has had problems with the Botswana Football Associations and, currently, the two parties seem to have smoked a peace pipe.
Moatlhaping also once had problems with Rowe and ended up finding solace in the national Under 23 team. Rowe once went to the extent of criticising Moatlhaping saying, before being recalled, he needed to publicly apologise to him. Rowe, however, has emphasised that he might have re-called Moatlhaping but there are still a few things to iron out.
Thato Siska and Ndiyapo Letsholathebe are the notable absentees from Egyptian game. Siska is injured while Letsholathebe would not be released by his American club because COSAFA is not FIFA sanctioned and his team would be playing the same weekend. With the exception of Michael Okutule, Abedinico Powell, Boitumelo ‘Bashin’ Modisaotsile, Donald Thobega, Patrick Motsepe, the rest of the players are regular members of the team.
Modiri Marumo, Noah Maposa, Onkutule, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Mompati Thuma, Boitumelo Mafoko, Ernest Amos, Nelson Gabolwelwe, Dirang and Pontsho Moloi, Keoagetse ‘Barnes’ Radipotsane, Vincent Phiri, Siska Thekiso, Malepa Bolelang, Motlhabane, Gobonyeone ‘Shoes’ Selefa, Alex Matshameko, Thobega, Powell, Modisaotsile Jones Kwape, Motsepe, Joseph Phetogo, Michael Mogaladi, Joel Mogorosi, Diphetogo Selolwane, Moatlhaping, Jerome Ramatlhakwane and Gabonamong.