Former Zebras midfielder-cum-striker Moemedi Moatlhaping has been instrumental in the Extension Gunners good run of form, netting three goals in the team’s four opening games. After a lacklustre arrival at Lobatse based outfit and an unhappy spell at Gaborone United, it looks like the former Township Rollers man has found his scoring boots at the right time.
If Extension Gunners is to challenge for the title this season, they will need to be guaranteed one thing- a good supply of goals. The team arguably had its best league start in many years. With Moatlhaping finding his magic touch again, Mapantsola finally have a shot at bringing to an end Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers’ league dominance.
A few weeks ago, Moatlhaping was not in the plans of Gunners technical team and had already packed his bags in search of a new home. That was until new coach Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul changed his mind and recalled the former Bay United striker.
Moatlhaping has repaid his mentor’s faith on him, scoring three goals in three appearances. It is certainly clear that the Gunners team may mould its play around the lanky striker, entrusting him with the responsibility of being a key man.
In the last league encounter, in which Extension Gunners defeated Gaborone United 2-1, his teammates made efforts to play to his strength. Floating crosses in the box for him to finish with his deadly weapon- his head. Jomo has a knack of conjuring goals with his head even in the strangest positions.
This season, Jomo will be assisted by Boitshoko “Mbayi” Zikhale who has rejoined the team from Gilport lions (formerly BMC). Zikhale, who established himself at Falcons FC and Uniao Flamingo Santos as a player was deployed in the right-wing by Paul, in the traditional 4-4-2 formation, but his versatility will see him also being called regularly to partner Jomo upfront as a target man.
Paul currently prefers Mogomotsi 'Jafta' Mokoka as the target man, while Moatlhaping plays behind him as a second striker, a position he blossomed on as a player in his early days. During his early days at Township Rollers, Moathaping had an enterprising partnership with veteran striker Tshepiso “Sox” Molwantwa.
The last five years of his career have been inconsistent and as a result, he has been in and out of the national team set-up. He last appeared in a Zebras shirt in 2012 and ever since then he has been regularly absent.
The Zebras national team coach, Peter Butler has been clear that youngsters will get the nod in his selection for the national team, but that does not necessarily shut the doors for the 30 year old Moshupa born goal poacher.
Moatlhaping’s career which took off well was hampered by discipline issues which cost him progress given his talent. Before leaving for South Africa’s PSL for the second spell in 2009, he had an impressive season at Mochudi Centre Chiefs, but his second home coming was not impressive.
He returned to join Gaborone United, but his relationship with management saw his falling out of favour and failing to net regularly for The Reds. After partying ways with United, he headed south to join Extension Gunners.
Beyong all reasonable doubt, Moatlhaping is a capable, well nurtured and versatile player who began his national team career at an early age, he rose to dominance during his days at Township Rollers as a teenager.
He proved to be effective in different positions; industrious on the wing, sensational in attacking midfield, and deadly inside the 18 yard box. Against Mali during the 2012 AFCON where he was deployed on the wing, he was involved interchanging passes with Tsotso Ngele, before adroitly laying the final ball to the Mamelodi Sundowns man to clinically finish.
Moatlhaping is also not a sissy player. His work rate is always impressive, hard in tackles and always putting pressure on defenders. Against GU, he got his goal from an unlikely situation. He converted a half-baked scoring opportunity when he lurched into the pass, putting pressure on the goalkeeper as he blocked Phoko’s clearance into GU’s net.
Moatlhaping has also been a leader from early age. He captained both the National Under-20 and Under-23 where he formed a solid partnership with Jerome Ramatlhakwana and Kekaetswe Moloi. His experience will be instrumental for Paul’s title chasing side.
At 19, Jomo was drafted into the senior national team by the then Zebras mentor Jelusic Veselin. Though a regular goal scorer at Township Rollers, Veselin preferred him in the attacking midfield role, getting a start in the absence of Masego Ntshingane.
Before long, the 21 year old lad was acquired by Premier Soccer League (PSL) giants Platinum Stars together with Phenyo Mongala. But he returned to rollers soon, before heading to resurgent Mochudi Centre Chiefs the following season where he reached a freakish scoring form.
Moatlhaping had his best spell ever at Centre Chiefs during the 2010/11 season in which he scored 30 times to finish the league as top goal scorer. His free goal scoring season saw him being the only local striker to rattle the net on such occasions. Former Township Rollers striker Terence Madanza (who scored 31 goals the previous season) being the only only man to better him in that respect.
In recent times, it has proved to be a difficult task for strikers to reach the 30 goal mark. With three goals under his belt so far, Jomo can strive to emulate his 2010/11 scoring form and perhaps help Ezi-Mnyama to their first league victory in two decades.
Local sprinter, Letsile Tebogo has been rewarded with a whopping P150 000.00 by Orange Botswana for his heroics at the recently held World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Speaking at a Handover Ceremony for Tebogo, Orange Botswana Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maano Masisi said, Orange Botswana is steadfast in their commitment to nurturing the youth and promoting sports in diverse ways.
âLetsile stands as a formidable force and an inspiration to young Batswana, showcasing the value of sports not only in Botswana but on an international stage through his remarkable achievements. Orange Botswana, furthermore, desires to cultivate enduring relationships with aspiring young Batswana, much like Letsile, who embody dedication, focus, and excellence in their endeavors. Letsile has already shattered records, etching new milestones for the African continent and beyond,â
Masisi further said the partnership aligns seamlessly with Orange Botswanaâs dedication to acknowledging exceptional individual talent like Tebogo.
âAs previously announced when we started this relationship, our collaboration with yourself entails financial support from Orange Botswana to fuel your journey in competitive sports, alongside your representation as the face of Orange Botswana,â he said.
For his part, Tebogo pleaded with Orange Botswana to extend his contract as it is beneficial to him, âI am thankful to Orange Botswana and I hope they could extent my contract as it has been very helpful.â
Meanwhile, Tebogoâs coach, Kebonyemodisa âDoseâ Mosimanyana was also showered with P10 000.00 for always ensuring that Tebogo is ready to take on the world.
Local athletes, Zibane Ngozi and Letsile Tebogo have confronted Minister of Youth, Gender and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare citing lack of support during preparations.
Speaking at the World Champs team Welcome Ceremony on Wednesday, the 4 x 400m relay specialist and Team Captain, Ngozi urged some of the government officials inclusive of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) representative, Rakgare to attend these high-profile competitions to witness the hardships they go through during these competitions.
âPeople need to understand it is not easy for us when we arrive at the World stage, there is a lot that is going on hence we need support in order for us to succeed as expected.
However, I am happy that immediately when I arrived in Botswana, BNSC credited our allowances which was a good thing because we had lots of debts (jokingly) thus we manage to settle them,â he said.
On the other hand, Tebogo who brought home two medals (silver and bronze) from 100m and 200m respectively at the World Champs said most athletes are going through depression due unfavorable conditions.
âMost of us going through depression because we lack support during preparations, we are only celebrated when we win but in hard times we are forgotten. Athletics is a difficult sport hence we need all the support we could to make it through and eventually amass medals as it is expected by our country,â
For his part, Rakgare admitted that local sport is faced with challenges, including but not limited to a tough sponsorship environment, limited or no sport in public schools, doping and leadership instability.
âI would of course be surprised if anyone of you would not agree with me that notwithstanding the challenges, we continue to achieve unprecedented results in sport, and the year to date is no exception,â he said.
Rakgare gave special recognition to Oratile Rose Nowe for heroics at the World Champs, âI would like to take this opportunity and congratulate Nowe for attaining a new personal best 2:01.62 in Womenâs 800m, which also happens to be a national record. By the way, Oratile is the first Motswana woman to ever qualify for the World Championships in middle distance running.â
According to Rakgare, Government, recognizes athletesâ achievements at any and every competition, and that is why most recently, they have rewarded them at the Youth and Sport Awards.
âI would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their investment in sport. We continue to pride ourselves in being one of the best funders of sport per capita, and as indicated earlier, we are not intending to slow down anytime soon,â
On a lighter note, World Champs BW Team was rewarded by various companies such as Debswana, Choppies, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and also government as a token of appreciation for participating in Hungary.
Tebogo was rewarded with P560 000 from Debswana, Choppies and BPC for bringing two medals home, 4 x 400m men relay finalists (Ngozi, Baboloki Thebe, Laone Ditshetelo and Leungo were given P25 000 apiece for reaching the finals and participating by Debswana; while ladies (Tlhomphang Basele, Golekanye Chikani, Lydia Jele, Oratile Nowe, Galefele Moroko, Obakeng Kamberuka were given P10 000 each for participation.
In addition, the World Champs team amassed P926 000.00 of which P250 000 would go to Tebogo and the remaining P676 000 will be shared amongst the rest of the team.
With several local associations currently going through a rough patch in terms of financial quagmires, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mokeresete Mokeresete is optimistic to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup as per the request from African Netball Board (Executive Committee) because Uganda has pulled out.
Will it be successful or finally quench the thirst of competing internationally?
The African Netball Championships or Africa Netball Cup are a netball competition held every after two years with teams from across Africa competing for the top price.
BONA National team competed in the last edition of the Africa Netball Cup which was held in 2021 in Namibia and they finished in position seven which was average.
Last time BONA hosted an event of this magnitude was the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup which was indeed a success even though the local team (Dinaletsana) finished in position 10.
One would have thought that the Dinaletsana team which looked promising would eventually go on and conquer the world in the following international competitions. However, that has not been the case as they struggled to qualify for the recent World Cup which was held in the neighboring South Africa.
In addition, the Botswana Netball League was last played in November 2022 and in 2023 they hosted a Fast Five Netball Cup just before the Netball World Cup.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, BONA Public Relations Officer (PRO) said they have accepted to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup following the pulling out of Uganda.
âWe have recently accepted a request to the 2023 Africa Netball Cup, however â we are still working on finalizing all the logistics that will be in play as you are aware that hosting an event requires a budget which might be difficult because we were given a smaller potion in the recent financial year.
Furthermore, we are yet to come up with a consolidated budget which could help us map a way forward as we really want to stage this particular competition. It is vital for us to host this competition as we want to revitalize local netball, we want to attract more for the league,â said Mokeresete Mokeresete.
MORE NETBALL ACTION AHEAD?
Mokeresete further hinted that the upcoming Independence Cup will be preparatory tournament for the upcoming Africa Netball Cup.
âWe are going to host the Independence Cup of which we are expected at least 16 ladiesâ teams and a few of maleâ teams as we are still swiftly introducing the male section to the sport in Orapa.
However, prior to the action we are going conduct courses for match officials, technical official and coachesâ beginnersâ level 1 courses as an effort of improve the standards of the sporting code,â hinted Mokeresete.
MISSING THE RECENT NETBALL WORLD CUP WAS CATASTROPHIC
According to BONA PRO, missing the recent Netball World Cup was catastrophic as players missed out on an opportunity to showcase their talents on the world stage which was bound to garner those deals to more professional countries in terms of Netball.
âWe are seeing lots of movement for players from countries like Zimbabwe which is remarkable and that could have happened for our player â but it wasnât to be as we did not qualify for the main event.
Moreover, through the World Cup Legacy Program, we have been awarded a sprung board and we are contention to transport it from South Africa to the country as one of the requirements to host a sporting event is to have a sprung floor,â
Meanwhile, the 2023 Africa Netball Cup is scheduled between November 26 â October 06 2023 at University of Botswana (UB) Indoor Sports Arena.