After declaring his interest in representing the country of his birth at international level, England-based midfielder Bobby Shillinde has been invited to the Zebras’ camp in preparation of the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. The AFC Wimbledon star is expected to land at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport in Gaborone this evening (6pm).
“I know I’m an unknown player in Botswana, especially that I came here at an early age but I believe I have what it takes to play for the national team. I was born and raised in Botswana and it would be an honour to wear the national colours irrespective of the league I’m playing in. It has always been my dream to play for the Zebras and I’ve no doubt that I’m ready,” said Shillinde in an interview from Wimbledon in January.
Zebras’ technical team seemed to have taken the 21-year-old midfielder’s plea into consideration as they managed to include him in the squad which is expected to report for camp today.
His agent, Comfort Ramatebele, is said to have provided the technical team with his DVDs.
When this publication contacted him on Friday morning, Shillinde was over the moon.
“I’m very excited and it will be a great experience for me. Hopefully, it won’t be my last call-up if I can impress the managers (technical team),” he said.
Shillinde will be among 22 local-based players with six other internationally-based players expected to report for camp next Sunday.
Tshosane told this publication on Friday that he called Shillinde to the camp so that they can have a close look at him. The Zebras’ coach is excited that finally some of Botswana-born players who are spread worldwide are showing interest in playing for their country,
“We need all our players who are playing in better leagues than ours. This would help in improving the performance of the national team. I can’t say much about him but the fact that he is playing in England should say something,” said Tshosane.
AFC Wimbledon are in the wrong end of the League Two.
Wimbledon are coached by one of the respected managers in English football, Neal Ardley.
When contacted for comment, Ardley said, “I can confirm that he is registered with our Under-21 reserves but has plenty of first team experience. He is very well disciplined, hard working youngster with abundance of pace and skill. Bobby has been with us from the 2010/2011 season and one thing I admire about the youngster is his persistence. He has always proven his worth in the team.” According to Ardley, Shillinde has a bright future in football as long as he continues working hard.
Ramatebele said that he is delighted that his player has been called to the camp.
“I hope to unearth Batswana players based abroad. In the first week of April I’ll be travelling to Qatar and United Kingdom to forge partnerships in the best interest of football,” said Ramatebele.
Zebras are likely to play Malawi at the UB Stadium on March 19 where Batswana might have a chance to see the Ramotswa-born player in action. Another player included in Tshosane’s squad is Pako Lekgare who plies his trade in Namibia.