Just three years ago, the only local players who once tried their luck in the money spinning South African league were Terrence Mphuting and Itumeleng ‘Tummie’ Duiker.
Mophuting played for both Kaizer Chiefs and the now defunct Qwa Qwa Stars. Duiker on the other hand once played for Dynamos and came back after they got relegated.
Apart from them, the only other local player plying his trade outside the country was Diphetogo Selolwane. He was in the United States playing College football, and every time he turned up for the national team, he made a huge difference.
Later, several local players always tried their luck but to little avail. It can be remembered that sometime in 2005, Mogogi Gabonamong was once invited for trials at South African giants, Orlando Pirates, on two occasions but could not lend a contract. When he went to Pirates, he was just returning from Trinidad and Tobago together with goalkeeper, Kagiso Tshelametsi, who is currently nursing an injury.
Also after the African youth championships that were held in Botswana in 1997, one of the promising strikers, Edwin Disang, was invited for trials in Belgium but to little avail. It was then reported that he did not have a good height.
Things have now started to change and local players are surely making their grades outside the country, especially in neighbouring South Africa.
With the exception of Zebras’ first choice goalkeeper, Modiri Marumo, who is in Egypt, most of our players are in South Africa. The players are playing in both the elite league and in the First Division.
Zebras anchorman, Michael Mohaladi, together with former Gaborone United and Township Rollers players, Joseph Phetogo and Phenyo Mongala, are in the First Division.
Mohaladi is at Maritzburg United while Phetogo and Mongala sweat it out at Nathi Lions and University of Pretoria respectively.
In the South African Premier League, there is Gabonamong and Selolwane and coach Major David Bright. The trio is involved with Cape Town teams.
Selolwane is at Ajax while Gabonamong and Bright are at Santos. Selolwane and Mogogi are also vital members of the national team. Just in his second season, Gabonamong was voted Santos player of the season.
Phetogo and Mongala might not be in the national team, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective teams.
Mohaladi, on the other hand, is an engineer of the Zebras midfield with his no nonsense tackles.
Zebras goalkeeper and former BDF XI goal minder, Modiri Marumo, is making his mark in Egypt. Marumo has proven to be the pillar behind Zebras and has been instrumental in many games, the latest being against Mozambique and Ivory Coast.
Against Mozambique, which Botswana defeated for the first time in history, Marumo made many brilliant saves. Even in a goal apiece draw against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, Marumo was outstanding.
Before signing for the Egyptian club, Haras El Hodoud, Pirates went for his services but he had already signed a pre-contract.
So far, three other local players are certain of heading for the South African Premier League. Two for Orlando pirates and one for Cape Town Santos.
Two who are reportedly heading for Pirates are Joel Mogorosi and Boitumelo Mafoko from Township Rollers.
Centre Chiefs top marksman and this year’s leading goalscorer, Jerome Ramatlhakwane, is heading to Santos to join Bright and Gabonamomg.
With the transfer window yet to open, rumours are flying that several local players might also land lucrative deals in South Africa.