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.
Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.
The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.
The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.
Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.
It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.
He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.
Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.
The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.
The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.
This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.
BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.
Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.
If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.
There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.
Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.
As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.
The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.
Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.
Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour. Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.
The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation. On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”
The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.
The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.
Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.
The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.
The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.
“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.
In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.
He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.
When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.