Sunday, September 27, 2020

Top teams’ prospering youngsters

It has since proved to be difficult for most youngsters in Botswana to break into most of the Premier league teams.

The fraction that managed, however, finds itself stranded on the benches as their older brothers are the ones mostly given runs.

Most teams in the Premier League have youngsters but they are either on the bench or not making the first team at all.

What is of surprise is that once they realise that some youths are making strides and are good enough to even play internationally, they rush to sign them only to opt for more experienced players later in the season, relegating the youngsters to the bench.

For instance, Botswana’s national Under 20 team was one of the best ever seen in Botswana because they reached the last stages of the African Championships where they were eventually knocked out by South Africa.

Most teams went for those youngsters and only a few of them are making an impact in the elite league.

The few are Ntesang Simanyana, Ofentse Nato (Gaborone United), Kabelo Dambe (Township Rollers) and Kgololo Leteane (Extension Gunners).
Simanyana is rarely given a run by GU but the pint sized player is always a marvel to watch once given a run. He has physique and his distribution is marvelous. He has created many crucial goals for the team when the chips were down.

Elder players, like Tshepo Molefhe, Steven Maposa, Kebatlogetse “Go Man’ Batsweletse, are finding themselves under pressure from the boy, also known as ‘Mirror’.

Just like Simanyana, Nato is finding it hard to break into the first team but once he enters, the team becomes mobile and he is not easy to dispossess.
The duo had a good understanding at the national Under 20, and one would wonder why their coach, Mike Sithole, does not experiment at GU.

Dambe, on the other hand, is slowly making it at Rollers. So far, he has since broken into the first team ahead of experienced goalkeepers, Lesego Moeng, Anthony Matengu and Goitseone ‘Shakes’ Morake. Dambe started as a second choice at the national Under 20 for Basimanebotlhe Moilwa of Naughty Boys but ended up toppling him. Some soccer experts are even seeing him as the next naturally talented goalkeeper to replace the current first national team goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo.
What makes Dambe special is his height; he has the height of a goalkeeper.

Former national team goalkeeper, Thabo Motang, sings praises for youthful Dambe.

“I realised that he has potential when I trained him at the national Under 20 because he had qualities of an excellent goalkeeper and I am telling you he is going to go places once he is focused and disciplined. He is good on reflexes and is very agile, that is something you do not find in most goalkeepers. I am not surprised by him being the current first choice at Rollers. The good part is that he got there gradually and once his form dips he would definitely know where to start,” said Motang.
As goalkeepers mature with age, Dambe has a bright future in Botswana and can be the best goalkeeper to have ever been produced by this country.

Leteane is also a naturally left footed player, normally operating on the wing. He is also one player seen as a natural replacement for Nelson ‘Viola’ Gabolwelwe whose age is slowly catching up with him.

There were times when Gabolwelwe was under tremendous pressure at the national team, with fans baying for his blood. Coaches did not bow down to pressure and most experts said it was mainly because there was no naturally left footed players like Gabolwelwe and having him would balance the team.

Leteane has proved at his team Gunners and even the national Under 20 that, once given a chance, youngsters can make wonders. He has pace and gives most defenders headaches. He also has the ability to shoot from the distance.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.