When Diphetogo Selolwane missed the first ever Botswana Senior National Team game at the 2012 AFCON finals, due to accumulation of two yellow cards, there was an element of fear that Zebras’ party at Gabon- Equatorial Guinea was to be dispersed earlier than expected.
This is directly linked to the current scenario after this week’s discovery that Zebras stalwart midfielder, Mothusi Cooper will sit out the all-important game against the Warriors of Zimbabwe on the 25th of March. The game is a matter of life and death for Zebras who desperately need a win to improve chances of qualifying for the AFCON finals which will be hosted by Cameroon next year.
Cooper, has also accumulated two consecutive yellow cards on the qualifiers and panic is gradually growing. This is not helped by the fact that media pressure on Adel Amrouche’s squad at these AFCON qualifiers has elicited an angry reaction by players and public alike.
Cooper is part of the Zebras squad and has played all four Zebras games. His impressive performance against Zambia last year November left the Zambians in awe. He suffocated the Zambian fluid football and cut all the supply to the front line attack. Zebras won the game by a solitary goal thus the reason why Zambian based club, Power Dynamos, did not waste any opportunity and signed Cooper immediately.
They viewed him as a tree that makes up a forest. He is everywhere in the midfield and remains one of the few gifted players in Amrouche’s side who has convincingly replicated his dazzling club form on the international stage.
His absence in a game in which Zebras need 3 points is an obvious big blow. Cooper will however be available for an ultimate game against the already qualified Algeria. Therefore, Cooper on his own is sparking a debate on how Amrouche will solve his midfield conundrum.
Cooper’s status going in to these back to back encounters is clearly that of a major talent, so coveted by the game’s elite clubs a price tag in excess of P200 000 bats few eyelids. His skill set is fabulously wide-ranging. He is an athlete with a tiny body but powerful physical presence, great balance, a boyhood love of dribbling, a hunch for audacious passing with an eye-catching shot.
A serial champion with Township Rollers, desired by many coaches around Southern Africa, of course Cooper would be central to Zebras’s plan. Wouldn’t he? No doubt. It is why Amrouche saw he cannot manage without him after he sacked him from the Zebras camp for indiscipline.
Amrouche called Cooper back and made him apologise and represent the country again. For many, Amrouche was admitting that without Cooper in the game, there is no flair.
Zebras is sitting on the third spot with a paltry 4 points. The team is eyeing second position and Zimbabwe, with its avalanche of talent, has to beaten after playing a goalless draw in their back yard last year.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.