Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Were they ever indisciplined?

Talk of indiscipline in the local soccer scene has for the last two seasons been synonymous with a few players and, topping the list, at least to some soccer scribes, were the Moloi brothers, Pontsho and Dirang. Whether the label of “indisciplined players” hanging over the two highly talented players was justified remains subjective even to this day.

The start of the 2006/2007 season has seen the younger of the Moloi brothers getting the spotlight for all the right reasons. Many attribute Dirang’s phenomenal displays to “being a good boy” on and off the field. However, though Dirang is at the peak of his game, those close to his elder brother Pontsho say that the dribbling wizard is a changed man from his days at Notwane.

Said one Chiefs staunch supporter, “When we first signed Pontsho, I was worried because I thought the guy would spoil our younger players with his indiscipline. How wrong I was? Pontsho has proved to be a role model to the younger guys and, above all, he is a team player who gets along well with his teammates. I begin to wonder if the claim that Pontsho was indisciplined were valid in the first.”
Pontsho himself had always maintained that he was not indisciplined. He once said, “People judge me negatively in the playing grounds because of my will to win and advocacy for fair play. I have been targeted by defenders by being roughly tackled and when I call for a bit of protection from the referees I am labeled indisciplined.”

These days, the dazzling player talks less to the match officials.
“This is because I realized that need to go on with my game because if I talk people will start attaching negative labels on me,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dirang has immediately turned into a national icon to his enemies and friends alike.
This follows his excellent displays when he helped Notwane clinch the prestigious Coca Cola Cup. And on Thursday, he was voted player of the series and walked away P7000 richer.

It is not local football lovers who have realized Dirang’s magnificent potential. Zebras coach Colwyn Rowe threw the youngster at the deep end against reigning African Champions Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier last week.
The mercurial midfielder stole the hearts of many as he outwitted Belgium based Egyptian captain Ahmed Hassan who was later substituted for his inefficiency.

Some admirers of the crafty player attribute his abrupt change of fortune to his change of character.

Said one of his friends, “Dirang has changed a lot since the beginning of this season. He now takes his football very seriously. In the past, sometimes he would just decide to miss training for no apparent reason. He realizes that he could make a fortune out of football.”

A Township Rollers player who also happens to be Dirang’s friend said, “Perhaps Pontsho’s move to Chiefs was a blessing to both brothers. Sometimes there was just too much pressure on them because they were labeled negatively and also playing for the same team. Referees also tended to victimize them. They sometimes got booked for very trivial offences. Nowadays Dirang knows that he is on his own and has to focus on his game.”

It would appear that people who did not know the players very well made the call of “indisciplined Pontsho and Dirang”. This is because, if indeed the players were indisciplined, their team would have brought them to book.

Football lovers will have to learn quickly that the game of billions is sometimes a game of emotions. A player might act at the spur of the moment and that does not constitute indiscipline. A section of the soccer loving people had labeled the great Zinedine Zidane indisciplined after he reacted to provocation by an Italian player during the World Cup. Is Zidane really indisciplined?

Both Pontsho and Dirang are expected to help their respective teams make a serious bid for the Mascom Premier League honours this season.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.