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The foreign brigade

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A LOOK AT THE LOCAL STARS FLYING THE FLAG IN SA

Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele (29)

Ngele took to the South African league like a duck to water when he joined Platinum Stars from Township Rollers in 2012.

Signed on the back of an impressive AFCON with the national team, the then 22-year-old’s fine form continued for his new club, where he formed a lethal strike force with Henrico Botes.

19 goals in 67 games, countless assists plus a Telkom Cup (a competition in which he was named ‘Player of the Tournament’) and three years later Mamelodi Sundowns came calling.

Unfortunately the lanky left footer’s stint with the Brazilians proved extremely frustrating and he was restricted to just 11 appearances in four years.

Indeed, much of his time was spent on loan at Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United, winning the league and MTN 8 with the former.

However, just when it appeared the playmaker might retrace his steps back home, Black Leopards offered him a lifeline at the start of the 2019/20 season.

Signed on a two-year contract, Ngele hasn’t featured much for Leopards, who are currently struggling in the league, second bottom after 17 games. The appointment of his former coach Cavin Johnson, who recently took over the reigns at Leopards, could prove a stroke of luck for Ngele.

Johnson is a big fan of the Zebra and handed him his first start of the season at the weekend.

Although Bloemfontein Celtic emerged victorious 4-2, Ngele put in a solid display which suggests he will be getting a lot more game time in the future.

Lesenya Ramoraka (25)

The marauding left-back joined Highlands Park after the 2018 season having starred for Orapa United.

It did not take Ramoraka long to secure a starting birth with Highlands, a feat not many local players manage so quickly.

GIFTED: Ramoraka

The flamboyant defender helped his new club to a 7th placed finish in their first season in the elite league.

Currently in 8th, Ramoraka, who has been an integral part of the Highlands set-up this season, will be hoping he can help his team secure another top 8 finish.

Mosha Gaolaolwe (26)

A hard tackling defender cum central-defensive-midfielder, Gaolaolwe joined National First Division (NFD) outfit TS Galaxy from Township Rollers at the beginning of the season.

Although he has been restricted to just five appearances, the steely player showed his versatility when the national team took on Algeria in an AFCON qualifier back in November.

The Desert Foxes ran out 1-0 winners on a damp night at the National Stadium but Gaolaolwe impressed in the middle of the park with his energy and tactical awareness.

He will be hoping for more opportunities with his club this year.

Ezekiel Morake (23)

The talented young shot stopper swapped one Galaxy for another at the beginning of the season, leaving Jwaneng to link up with Gaolaolwe at TS Galaxy.

SHOT STOPPER: Morake

Despite his obvious talent, Morake has found game time hard to come by, donning Galaxy’s colours just five times so far.

However, age is on the keeper’s side and if he can stay fit he should have a bright future.

Thatayaone Ditlhokwe (21)

The former Township Rollers defender joined SuperSport United in the current transfer window.

Despite turning 21 in September, Ditlhokwe has already proved he has a calm head on young shoulders, a trait that has seen him captain both Popa and the national team.

The youngster will need to show all his maturity as he enters a daunting changing room, where he will be competing against the likes of seasoned professionals Clayton Daniels, Grant Kekana and Bongani Khumalo for a starting spot.

Ditlhokwe’s time at SuperSport got off to a promising start at the weekend, when he was unexpectedly called off the bench to sure up his side’s defence in the 85th minute.

He duly did what was required off him, ensuring his team did not concede to eventually run out 2-0 winners against Amazulu.

The result leaves SuperSport in third place, ten points adrift of league leader’s Kaizer Chiefs.

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A dream deferred

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CORONA PUTS SLOVAKIA ON HOLD FOR LOCAL DUO

The chance of a lifetime, to play domestic football in Europe, has been put on hold for two local ladies as the coronavirus pandemic keeps its killer claws wrapped tightly around world sport.

National team players, goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija and striker Reilwe Tholakele were meant to leave for a four-month trial with top Slovakian side Partizan Bardejov at the start of March.

The try-outs were scheduled to run until 30 June, as the duo looked to secure contracts with the Division One outfit.

That dream has been deferred, for now.

The pioneering pair were identified by Bardejov after impressing during the national team’s training camp in Slovakia last year.

The Mares had travelled to the landlocked Central European nation as part of their preparations for the Olympic Qualifiers.

It proved to be an apt choice.

Shortly after their return from the West, the ladies famously went on to knock South Africa out in the second round of qualifying, beating their mighty neighbours 3-2 on penalties after the two-legged tie finished goalless.

23-year-old Bosija starred in the match, brilliantly saving two penalties to cap a heroic performance.

Although the journey would ultimately end in a narrow loss to Zambia in the next round, the victory over a South African side who had competed at the World Cup just a month earlier remains a milestone in local sport.

For the trail-blazing Bosija, making history is nothing new.

The Tutume-born shot stopper became the first Motswana lady to play in the South African league when leading club Bloemfontein Celtic snatched her up in 2017.

RISING HIGH: Bosija

Bosija’s three-year contract with Celtic came to an end last December and she remains anxious to explore new opportunities.

Tholakele, meanwhile, has made her name at the other end of the pitch.

The 24-year-old Township Rollers forward is a natural goal-scorer and has led the line for the national team for many years now.

Tholakele’s speed and strength, combined with her clever movement make her a nightmare for defenders to play against.

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, a disappointed Bosija said she had no doubt that both herself and Tholakele would have excelled at Bardejov.

“It is unfortunate that we could not travel because of this world disaster. But the deal still stands and we are hopeful this shall pass and we will be able to go.”

Indeed, the dedicated keeper revealed she is working hard on her fitness to ensure she is ready to pounce when her chance arrives.

“I am currently training every day in the afternoon to keep fit and national team Goalkeeper Coach Thabo Motang is facilitating the training. There was another team in Czech Republic which was interested in signing me but the Slovakian one was quick to send a letter. We agreed with our agent Moran Nthoiwa to go there and the team was to pay our four-month stay expenses,” explained Bosija, who started playing football as an 11-year-old at Monarch Primary School in Francistown.

Originally Bosija began as a striker but, fortunately for Botswana football, fate was to intervene.

“One day during school ball games our goalkeeper was absent and my teammate, Tshiamo Manuel advised me to take the position. We lost 1-0 but the coach was impressed by my performance and so I continued in goal.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

“We qualified to represent the Francistown region in the nationals where I was identified by Tshepo Mphukuthi who called me for U13 camp. I was very consistent in my performance and played for U15, U17, U20 and now senior national team. I played for Rollers from 2013 to 2015 and in 2016 I joined Double Action where I played for few months before I was signed by Celtic,” summarised Bosija, who was quick to thank the Botswana Football Association (BFA) for their part in her rise.

It is a rise that for now must come to a standstill.

The next chapter, however, should make for fascinating reading!

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BNOC to call off camp

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LOC to meet with affected federations

Following the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to next year due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) is mulling the idea of calling off camp.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo took a decision on Tuesday to reschedule the Olympic Games to the summer of 2021.

The decision was made to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

Likewise, BNOC held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and the Local Organising Committee has been tasked with meeting with management from the affected sporting codes to deliver the outcome of the meeting before an official announcement is made.

Voice Sport has been reliably informed that while many agreed that it made sense to break camp due to cost implications, federations are however worried about their athletes who are likely to lose form.

Athletes who have already qualified and many still chasing their qualification berth went in to camp in November last year.

The camp comprises of athletes from athletics, boxing, weight lifting and swimming.

Speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday evening, a worried BNOC Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho said an official announcement will be made after LOC has met with concerned federations. Serufho told Voice Sport that they find themselves between a rock and a hard place as they currently don’t know whether IOC will extend the qualifying period, or what lies in store for those who’ve already qualified.

According to the previous schedule athletics and boxing qualifiers were to go on until the end of June while judo and swimming were scheduled up until the end of July.

Serufho said BNOC is worried that athletes will lose form since there will be no competitions unless the CoronaVirus scare subsides.

“What are we going to do to sustain their performance since they are not allowed to train as a team?” Serufho asked rhetorically.

He revealed to Voice Sport that due to the suspension of sporting activities they had to cancel their plans of sending athletes to a High Performance Center in South Africa.

“Some of our athletes were scheduled to go for a training session in Europe at the end of June,” he said.

Over the weekend two athletes Baboloki Thebe and Onkabetse Nkobolo were involved in a car accident after they sneaked out of camp for a boozy night out.

Quizzed on measures they have in place to ensure that all athletes follow their coaches training programmes to remain fit and disciplined, Serufho could only say they will discuss the issue with Federations.

“Botswana Athletics Association is currently investigating the incident involving those two athletes and they are expected to give BNOC a full report,” said Serufho.

Botswana is still looking to add to her only Olympic success, a 2012 Silver medal won by 800m sprinter Nijel Amos at the London Summer Olympics.

The 2021 Olympics offers the nation another opportunity a rare but greatly desired podium finish.

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