The 4-0 loss of the Zebras to the mighty Elephants of Cameroon came as a shock to many Batswana who have been closely following the team.
Many Batswana had high hopes that Botswana would go out and fight like wounded lions as they did in the two previous games.
Botswana had held the mighty Ivorians to a one all draw in Botswana and even defeated Mozambique away in Maputo.
Considering that Botswana had never defeated Mozambique in history and sharing spoils in a game they could have easily won, Batswana even hoped for a victory against a star-studded side.
The Ivory Coast exposed Botswana with their quick runs on the flanks and, time and again, caught the defence flat footed. The defeat called on coach Stanley Tshosane to make a few changes to energise the team.
The players who disappointed the most were Barnes Radipotsane, Ernest Amos, Nelson Gabolwelwe and Tshepho Motlhabankwe. After roping in the Gunners’ crafty midfielder, Abedinico Powell for Michael Mohaladii, many thought he would be given a run.
Age is catching up with other players and there have been calls for them to give young players a chance.
The older players in the team are Amos, Khumo Motlhabane, Selolwane and Gabolwelwe.
Former national team coach, Jellusic Vesselin, once told Sunday Standard that age in football is nothing if players take care of their bodies. He gave an example of Italy that won the 2006 World Cup with many players over the age of 30.
Italy has since been knocked out in the quarter finals of the Euro 2008 championships ending today (Sunday).
In the Zebras, the only player who is so far showing no signs of ageing is Selolwane. He has been consistent for sometime.
Amos and Gabolwelwe are sometimes disappointing as happened in Abidjan. Both players are left-footed and have continued to be the coach’s favorites.
But many people are questioning whether the modern pace of the game is a bit heavy for them. Gabolwelwe has been outstanding in some of the games but his stamina has always been a problem. Running down the flank and defending at the same time has been a bit heavier for him.
After the Under 23s did well, it was expected some players, including defenders, would be given a chance and it has since not been the case.
Defenders, such as Gobonyeone ‘Shoes’ Selefa, Gabriel Bokhutlo Mosimanegape Ramohibidu and Moreetsi Mosimanyana, were some of the outstanding ones.
Bokhutlo might be short but his no nonsense tackles and overlaps on the right flank have always been phenomenal. There are several famous African players Bokhutlo tamed. The one that comes to mind is well-built Tunisian, the tall and quick striker, Yassim Chikaoui. As a left footed player, pace, defensive ability and free kick specialist, Ramohibidu is also someone it has been felt is given a raw deal. Ramohibidu, just like Bokhutlo, has never been called for any national team camp. Selefa and Mosimanyana are the only ones who are normally called into camp but are rarely given a run.
Rowe did not entertain any chance of naming them in his final team. With the exception of Mompati Thuma and Ndiapo Letsholathebe other defenders’ time is slowly expiring.
There is no way Mosimanyana and Selefa should prove themselves because they did that against the best in the world, and most of those players are playing for their respective national teams.
Mosimanyana might sooner be the best defender in the Premier League. His body even resembles that of West African players and his tackles are a marvel to watch. Any player put under the watchful eye of Mosimanyana is always in trouble.
On the other hand, what gives Selefa advantage is his height and also his bone crushing tackles?
Radipotsane is also someone who has disappointed on several occasions when given a run. Against the Ivory Coast, it was terrible. Who can really forget that golden opportunity he missed against Egypt in an away and deciding game for qualification for this year’s just completed Africa Cup of Nations?
Surprisingly, Radipotsane is still the incumbent coach’s farvourite, just like the previous one.