Zebras’ long serving player, Diphetogo ‘Dipsy’ Selolwane, has confirmed that he will retire from international football after the 2012 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
When the campaign started in July last year, Selolwane, who has played for the Zebras for over a decade, made it clear that he would retire from the game a happy man if the Zebras made their first appearance at the continental championship.
His experience in the middle of the park has contributed to the Zebras getting some positive results.
Speaking to Sunday Standard from his Johannesburg base, Selolwane said, “I believe that after this AFCON, I would have truly served the country and everyone would be okay with me stepping down. It is always good to be remembered of the great things you’ve done for the country, not like an old player who does not want to let it go.”
He said when the Sudanese referee blew the final whistle against Chad, he felt like crying.
“No words can explain how I feel at this present moment. I feel that I have played my part to ensure that we’re also counted amongst the best teams in the continent. I do believe that God was with us in this journey and I want to thank all my teammates, coaching staff and all those who were involved in this campaign,” he said.
Selolwane has seen it all with the Zebras before last weekend’s historic moment. When he looks back, he has no answers why they failed to qualify for the continental games though they had the best players.
“I think it was our time to reach the final and God’s will. The fact that we played together for a long time has helped a lot. We’ve grown up and some of us turning professional along the way also contributed immensely. If you’re a professional player, your approach to the game differs,” he continued.
Botswana has six players plying their trade in the South African Premier League, with only goalkeeper Modiri Marumo playing in the First Division. This is something which was unheard of in the past and many commentators believe that the experience the seven players brought has helped a lot to improve the fortunes of the Zebras.
Selolwane paid tribute to the technical team led by Stanley Tshosane for believing in the players throughout the campaign. He said that Tshosane was never demoralized by some critics who questioned his tactics throughout the campaign.
Being the longest serving member of the squad, Selolwane said that they have played beautiful football in the past which did not yield any positive results.
“Our game plan never changed through the qualifiers because we knew we were the underdogs. Our plan was to keep it tight at the back and hit our opponents on a counter attack (which worked for us),” he said.
With the Zebras having qualified, Selolwane has appealed to Botswana Football Association (BFA) to come up with a proper plan, which would ensure that they perform well at the tournament.
“They (BFA) should get a better camp for us ahead of the games where we can prepare thoroughly. We need to have good accommodation, training ground, food, medical treatment and equipment. With all the things in place, our concentration will be on the field of play,” continued the Supersport United midfielder.
The soft-spoken Selolwane added that with the Zebras making their maiden appearance at the games, they have to leave a lasting impression.
In his parting shot, Selolwane thanked the supporters for rallying behind the team even in difficult times. He pleaded with the supporters to start making arrangements of going to support the Zebras at the African games.
“The supporters’ presence would make a huge difference,” he concluded.