Monday, September 21, 2020

Solution to Zebras’ scoring problem on the way

Without doubt, there is a of shortage of strikers around the world. Teams are always fighting for the few available to the extent that, sometimes, it gets physical.

Just like many other countries, Botswana has had a shortage of prolific goal scorers. From way back when most local teams have mostly relied on imported players, especially from neighbouring countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Some of the memorable imports who were bought by their respective teams to solve the goalscoring problems were the likes of Themba Lunga, Abraham Mubanga, Joseph Chikoti, Edison Mulubwa, Francis Chisenga, Langson Phiri, Boniface ‘Killer’ Mukhonde and Masauso Tembo.
Botswana has always had a few strikers of which, if out of form or injured, the national team had problems.

Currently, the man who is carrying the Zebras on his shoulders is South African-based Diphetogo Selolwane. Once on form, Botswana is guaranteed at least a goal. But, should he not be available for one reason or other, the Zebras can go for many games without scoring a single goal.

Selolwane has even been hailed as a rare breed that comes once in many years.
Concerns have also cropped up on what would happen once he calls it a day. However, it looks like those worries might sooner be put to rest.

In the making is a youngster with an incredible striking rate. Sensational Under 20 striker, Kebonnetse, seems to be slowly getting where many have failed. He seems to be the driving force behind the ongoing impressive performance of the national Under 20s. So far, in the four games he has featured in, he netted five goals.
The most amazing thing about Kebonnetse is the fact that his goals are not ordinary goals but classics.

What made people to start taking note of Kebonnetse was his performance in a friendly game against South Africa just before the start of the Under 20 African championships in April this year. He scored a brace that helped Botswana hold South Africa in Itsoseng.

A week latter, in the first game and first leg against Namibia, his goal once again helped Botswana play to a one all draw away to Namibia. In the second leg in Gaborone, his only goal helped Botswana to qualify for the next round.
A stage was then set against the robust West Africans, Gabon. Against all odds, Botswana made history by defeating the Gabonese away by two goals to nil, courtesy of Kebonnetse and Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele.

“The goal was even more special in Gabon. I scored from a thunderbolt volley after receiving a square pass. I also laid a pass for the second goal scored by Ngele. The Gabonese had some of their players based overseas and were strong and dominated most of the game, but tactically we were superior. Also, we played under difficult conditions because it was hot and even the treatment we received from Gabon football officials was horrible but we were focused and won the game,” he said.
The talented, Gaborone Senior Secondary student is even surprises himself. He tells Sunday Standard that he only played football at primary school and when he moved to junior secondary in South Africa, he did not even touch a soccer ball until he came home for senior secondary. Then he was taken into the Rollers youth team by his uncle and Rollers Managing Director, Somereset Gobuiwang.

From there he impressed and former coach Madinda Ndlovu called him for the senior team.

“Ndlovu saw something in me and encouraged me to train with the first team, but I never got a break and even now I rarely get one. Last season I was mainly on the bench and played few games and for only about five minutes,” he said.

Kebonnetse is, however, optimistic that his major break at Township Rollers will come. He also emphasizes that even though he is talented, his focus is mainly on his studies.

“Education is the way to be in Botswana no matter how talented in football one is. I want to fully concentrate on my studies and do well because this year I will be writing my final examinations. Making it big in football would be a bonus for me,” he said.

His coach at the Under 20, Teenage Mpote, describes Kebonnetse as a young player with a big heart. He tells Sunday Standard that the guy is going places provided he is nurtured well and listens to advice.

“It is rare in Botswana to find a young Motswana player doing like Kebonnetse does. He is at international level and is definitely a germ that, if polished well, is going to sparkle the most. In the future, I am optimistic he will make a huge impact for this country at international level where many have failed,” he said.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.