Soccer temperatures in the Mascom Premier League have already reached boiling point as teams fight for honours while others are battling to avoid the dreaded relegation axe. The interesting factor is that most teams are easily finding the back of the net because several strikers are in hot form. Most of such strikers are locals and, surprisingly, are always overlooked for the national team. Currently, the trio of Tshephiso Molwantwa, Malepa Bolelang and Mpho Mabogo, are the leading goal scorers but are not considered national team material. All the three players once had stints with the national team only to be dropped and pave way for others.
Molwantwa is the one who played for the Zebras for a long time but why he was dropped still remains a mystery. Molwantwa was always seen as a saviour for the Zebras, especially against tougher opponents.
Meanwhile, Bolelang is on course to defend his golden boot award. Last year, he was the league’s leading goal scorer and this year stands a great chance because he is keeping the current leader, Molwantwa, under tremendous pressure. Bolelang was also once given a run in the national team but for only a short period of time. Many people still believe he was never given a chance like other players and did not disappoint in the few games that he featured in. Bolelang was also dropped from the team by Coach Colywn Rowe but under controversial circumstances.
Mabogo also once played for the national team but former coach Jelusic Vesselin saw him as a surplus. But even after being dropped from the national squad, Mabogo continued with his fine form for his team BDF XI. Last year, when Bolelang walked away with the golden boot award, it was Mabogo who had been breathing heavily on his neck. Bolelang only managed to pull himself out of Mabogo’s path in the very last stages of the league. Even this season, the Shoshong-born striker has a great chance.
The big question, however, is why these fine strikers are overlooked for the national team while they always prove that they have what it takes to be lethal and are capable of scoring for the national squad. In addition, the strikers that are picked ahead of Molwantwa, Bolelang and Mabogo are struggling to score in the league regularly. It is also a world wide phenomenon for regular scorers to lead the attacks for their countries, regardless of whether they are in professional or amateur football.
On his part, Township Rollers coach, Daniel Nare, said several factors could be cause as to why the three players are overlooked. He said coaches have different approaches, philosophies and plans for games and thus always choose players who suit the coach’s needs. On Molwantwa, Nare added that nowadays he is injury prone and that may be the reason he is being overlooked.
“Everybody in this country knows that the national team without Molwantwa is bad news,” said Nare. “He is someone who always makes the defence unstable with his dazzling runs and thus opening up spaces for others. But of late Molwantwa has been prone to injuries. That may be the reason he is not being picked.”
Nare did not mince his words on Mabogo. He said he is yet to see a striker who can match Mabogo’s good runs and moves even off the ball. He said if he were the national team coach, he would pick Mabogo.
“For two seasons now, Mabogo has had a good combination with fellow striker Bernard Simakwenzi. Mabogo makes good runs to open up spaces for Simakwenzi to score,” he said. “Taking into consideration his bulky body, I would always pick him for the national team without hesitation.”
Nare was optimistic about Bolelang saying his time in the national team would come since he is still developing. He said Bolelang is one player who gives all for his team, Ecco City, but is yet to do the same at national team level. Nare said although Bolelang might not have been given enough of a run, he must not lose hope because he is proving himself at club level and added that Bolelang must just continue working hard to avoid falling into the trap that saw many great players falter as soon as they graduated into the national team.
“For me, Bolelang is a late developer. He is developing well and by the time he is complete he is going to be untouchable. He is currently doing wonders for his team, Ecco and that speaks volumes for him. He just needs to be focused and one day he will be the top Zebras striker,” Nare said.