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Why Jomo is Gunners’ talisman


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.

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