For a very long time, there has been an outcry for the national team coaches to give many young players a chance so that the senior team can have a larger pool of players to select from.
That, however, kept falling on deaf ears as nothing practically happened.
The situation intensified under the tutelage of Colywn Rowe who has since been fired. During Rowe’s tenure, the national Under 23 team did very well but he did not recognise almost the entire team for the reasons better known only by him.
At one stage, he said he would make changes to the team and give more players a chance, but that did not materialize as he kept on relying on the same players’ time in and out. By the time incumbent coach, Stanley Tshosane, took over the team, it was in the middle of the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying games. He had to be focused on the games and changes were unlikely.
He did not disappoint because, of the three games he played, he managed to collect four points. In the three-month break the team had before the next qualifiers, Tshosane seemed to have heeded calls from many soccer pundits to call many players to the Zebras camp ahead of the COSAFA tournament in two weeks time.
Some of the players he called are the ones that were seen to be given raw deals by the previous coach despite immense contribution they were making at their respective teams.
Such players include the trio of Mosimanegape Ramohibidu (BMC), Tiroyamodimo ‘TRX’ Mohambi (Extension Gunners) and Thobo ‘Fish’ Kgoboge of Nico United.
With his dazzling runs at the left back and his ability to overlap, Ramohibidu was seen as a replacement for ageing Nelson ‘Viola’ Gabolwelwe. At the Under 23s, he was the pillar who heavily contributed to some of the goals the team scored.
Two games that come to mind are ones against Guinea and Morocco, which Botswana won 2-1 and 2-0, respectively.
Against Guinea, many thought the game was headed for a draw but his long, defence-splitting crosses were converted by Gobonyeone ‘Shoes’ Selefa. Against Morocco, he personally orchestrated and scored the first goal and had a hand in the second one, scored by Jerome ‘Jay Jay’ Ramatlhakwane.
It is now for Ramohibidu to show Tshoasne that he is a matured player and ready for the senior team.
On the other hand, Mohambi played for all the country’s junior teams and only failed to break into the Zebras. Also for the past few seasons his playing career was in a bit of downward spiral but resurrected last year and helped Extension Gunners to finish in an unprecedented top eight position and finished as the second highest leading goal scorer. With the continuing striking crisis facing the country, Mohambi was somehow seen as a solution or even complement the existing strikers. Mohambi is mainly dangerous with his long range shots and his physical power, something that is lacking amongst most of the local players.
Kgoboge, on the other hand, has never tasted national team colours. But since donning Nico United colours from town rivals, FC Satmos, Kgoboge has been untouchable, especially on the left flank.
His pace has even helped his fellow teammate, Master Masitara, to finish as the joint leading goal scorer.
Kgoboge has the ability to operate on both flanks with ease. With him on the other flank and Joel Mogorosi on the other, the Zebras would be extremely dangerous.
There have also been surprise call-ups to the team. Names like that of Naughty Seboloko (BDF XI), Kenosi (Boteti), Moses Pelaelo (Ecco City) are unfamiliar among many soccer fanatics.
Bonolo Fraser only made his name at the national Under 20 that played last year in the COSAFA tournament. He was sometimes called to the national Under 23 but never saw action.
Kenosi, on the other hand, did a sterling job for Boteti, especially on the left flank. His skill and pace were too much to handle for several teams.
Gunners’ engine man, Abedinico Powell is also seriously waiting on the sidelines. He is always called for camps but does not see any action. If his team performance is anything to go by, his name might, in the future, be the first on the coach’s lips as he announces his line up.
The team is supposed to play a friendly game today (Sunday) against a select side from Mahalapye.
Tshosane has since made it clear that he is not making wholesale changes, but only wants to have a look at as many players as possible, and the ones impressing him will be called for camp regularly.
Other players are:
Patrick Motsepe (BDF XI), Noah Maposa, Oteng Moalosi, Gobonyeone Selefa (Mochudi Centre Chiefs), Itumeleng Selapa, Boitumelo Bashin Modisaotsile (ECCO City Green), Basarutweng “Booster’ Magola (GU), Ofentse ‘Schwalvk’ Mmipi (Gunners), Emmanuel Thakadu (Miscellaneous), Dirang Moloi, Moreetsi Mosimanyana (Notwane), Mmusa Ohilwe (BMC), Raphael Nthwaane, Vincent Phiri (Uniao Flamengo Santos).
Meanwhile, the Zebras will, once again, take on their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)/World Cup opponents, Mozambique, in the quarter finals of the COSAFA tournament.
The two teams will lock horns on July 27 in the City of Secunda in Mpumalanga Province. They will meet at a time when they have the unfinished business of the AFCON/World Cup tournament.
Both teams have to play the second leg of the qualifiers which will definitely prove to be a litmus test.
If both Mozambique and Botswana entertain any hopes of appearing at the 2010 AFCON, they have to win the game that to be played in Gaborone in October at all costs.
Botswana made history by winning the first leg 2-1 away to Maputo. It was the first time the Zebras defeated Mozambique in an official game. Mozambique has always had the best of the Zebras in the COSAFA Cup.
In the last two meetings in the COSAFA tournament, Botswana had the tendency of taking an early lead only to falter in the late stages.
With Botswana having recently broken the jinx, the July 27 game promises to be a thriller.
Both teams obviously look to use second string sides.