Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Zebras veterans show they are the aces in the pack

Botswana’s national team, the Zebras, have so far done well for the qualifications of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Already Botswana is the leaders in the tough Group K, much to the disbelief of many African soccer pundits.

Botswana leads the group with seven points from three matches meaning they are yet to lose.
Powerhouses like Tunisia and Togo trail behind Botswana, with other countries complementing the group being Malawi and Chad.

Many Batswana are hopeful that history will be written and the team will make their maiden appearance.

However, there is still a long way to go for Botswana to realize that and there are many hurdles.
Nevertheless the current squad is a blend of youth and experience but the prominent veterans in the squad is the duo of goalkeeper Modiri Marumo and midfield cum striker, Diphetogo Selolwane.
Both players have already past the age of 30 and, normally in football that is when players’ performances start to diminish bit by bit until they call it a day.

That is why even in the professional league, players above the age of 30 are normally given one year contracts, regardless of how good they are.

Both Selolwane and Marumo have, however, proved to be invaluable to the national team because at this stage, their experience is needed the most. Selolwane, plays for Supersport, is currently 32 meaning that if Botswana makes it to 2012 Afcon he will be 34.

Normally, goalkeepers mature with age and they are the ones that normally retire before the on field players. Marumo is currently 34 and there is no denying the fact that he has been a pillar of strength for the national team for several years.

In some of the matches, it appeared as if he was alone on the field with opposition strikers.
In two years, Marumo will be 36 and, just like Selolwane, the nation is also expecting much from him.

The obvious question is whether their ages will not handicap the Zebras to qualify for Afcon?
The Zebras coach, Stanley Tshosane, told Sunday Standard Sports that the two players have a lot to offer and can still play for a few more years to come.

“I am close to these players because I work with them often and I can assure you that their invaluable experience will keep on benefitting the national team. For them to keep on playing to their current ages should even tell you about their lifestyles on and off the pitch. From a very young age, they have never indulged themselves in negative things that would have affected their soccer careers,” he said.

Tshosane expressed confidence that if Botswana can qualify for 2012 Afcon the two players will still be there for the team.

Selolwane played for all national team setups and has always played his heart out. He is actually the one who paved the way for several local players to venture into the South African Premier League.

Marumo, on the other hand, started donning the national team jersey from the Under 23 in the mid-nineties and has never looked back. He returned home from Egypt last year where he was playing professional football.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

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