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.
A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.
Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.
This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.
Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.
Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.
However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts. They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.
FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.
It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.
Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.
The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.
He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.
The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.
Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.
Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.
“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.
It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU. His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.
No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.
It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.
Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.
However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.
Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.
This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!
Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.
His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.
However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.
When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.
But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.
Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.
If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.
But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.
But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.
However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.
Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.