Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The agony of being overlooked for national team duty

It is every player’s dream world wide to wear the national team jersey. It shows that a player who dons the national team jersey is among the best in the country.

On the other hand, being left out of the national team, knowing that you have what it takes, is more painful, regardless of the reasons given.
This rings true to some of the players who have been left out of the national team, despite the potential they might have displayed.

Just recently, the national team was called for camp and coach Stanley Tshosane mixed young blood from the national Under 20 and Under 23 teams.
Many pundits embraced the team considering that they are still young and by the time the national team is busy with official games, most of them would have gained much needed exposure.
Most of the players selected were revelations at their respective youth teams.

However, some of the notable omissions, especially from the Under 20 squad, despite their capabilities and contributions they made, was the duo of Gaopatwe ‘Shoes’ Seosenyeng and Aubrey Kebonnetse. Seosenyeng was a revelation in the team’s defence in almost all the games the team played, and is even the reason the team stayed on until the last game for the contention of the African youth championships that were held in Rwanda early this year.
His no-nonsense marking skills and tackles saw him landing at star studded BDF XI.

At BDF XI, he saw himself pitted against experienced defenders like Mompati Thuma, Ernest Amos and Donald Thobega. He found it very hard to break into the first team and played only a few games. The young lad is, however, unfazed and vowed to fight for the first team action and finally playing for the national team.

“Definitely it is painful to see most of my teammates playing for the national team while I am not. Having played a few games at BDF XI automatically made it difficult for me to be considered for the national team. But I am hopeful one day I will get there. At the end of the day, it is up to the coach to choose the team he has faith in,” he said.

In Botswana, there is a serious shortage of strikers, and Kebonnetse was the likely candidate. He was a revelation at the under 20 and scored almost three quarters of the team’s goals.

He got an injury in one of the national under 20 games and it took some time for him to bounce back. By the time he was fully fit, he still found himself on the sidelines.

Experienced strikers who delivered little were given a nod ahead of him. Even during a time when strikers were performing badly, his coach just did not choose him.

“I was partnering Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele at the national Under 20 and we did a tremendous job. Now he is in the national senior team while I am left behind. Obliviously, it is a challenge to me. Firstly, I have to win the first team jersey at Township Rollers first that’s when I can think of the national team. I have to work hard and keep on playing along side Ngele again. Currently Ngele is playing regularly at his team and he is delivering,” Kebonnetse said.

At Rollers, Kebonnetse faces tough competition from the likes of Terrence Mandaza, Mohammed Chawila, Bernard Simakwenzi, Edwin Moalosi and Joel Mogorosi.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.