For the past few years Botswana Premier League (BPL) exports to the lucrative Premier Soccer League (PSL) of South Africa have declined at an alarming rate despite local clubs having good relations with South African teams. Although local players made a break into the ABSA Premiership in recent years, their stint is shortlived in their respective clubs except a few in the likes of Diphetogo Selolwane and Mogogi Gabonamong during their era.
This year alone Botswana players at the PSL stands at two being Lesenya Ramoraka and Mogakolodi Ngele playing for Highlands Park and Black Leopards respectively. It has been a rough patch for local players since last season when Kabelo Seakanyeng was released by his former club Chippa United. As if that was not enough the same predicament befell Mpho Kgaswane at Baroka FC despite him enjoying game time and preforming well. From the few players who remained the expectation was that Kabelo Dambe will stay longer and fight for his place in the team, however he was released by Bloemfontein Celtics and returned home to join Township Rollers while Mwampole Masule never tasted action while he was reported to be with Chippa United in the last six months. Simisani Mathumo is also back in Botswana after his side Free State Stars relegated to the National First Division and news are rife that he will not return to SA after efforts to secure a deal in the premier league proved futile.
Yet another promising talent, Onkabetse Makgantai is back in the country after struggling for some game time last season at Baroka FC. Although details are still sketchy word on the street is that the phenomenal attacker is currently in talks with mining side Jwaneng Galaxy and he might sign a two year deal with the club. However the club has been cagey with the details about their interest in the player. “Makgantai is a good player if given an opportunity we would sign him but for now we are still preparing for our CAF Confederations Cup in Mauritius .Maybe we will look into it next week if he is available,” said club mouthpiece Tankiso Morake when engaged on the matter.
According to football analyst Monty Gagomokgwa the issue is a complex one, “This one is a tricky one because the players we normally send to South Africa we deem them as our best crop of players but they usually don’t become successful with their teams. I think it’s high time we take it directly to South African teams such that they tell us what our player’s lack. If its issues of development we can work on that,” he said.
Just recently during the COSAFA senior challenge media was awash with reports that Botswana players did impress South African teams and scouts. Amongst those who were believed to have attracted scouts from PSL sides were Mothusi Cooper and Thatayone Ditlhokwe amongst others, however nothing has materialized at this point in time. When asked about the niche market of smaller European countries like Malta, Azerbaijan where Kgaswane and Seakanyeng are currently based, Gagomokgwa said it’s a very good route which local players can benefit from. “Our players have always been ready for those countries because it provides an opportunity to put them closer to Belgian, Russian leagues which can propel them to better lucrative leagues. In addition for other local players to be there can open doors for Botswana players. But the biggest problems is that local players lack videos because in Europe a player is marketed through a video- you recommend a player through the videos they have. Another problem is that local players seem to be comfortable here at home. So now lack of players at better leagues means the national team is affected and we are regressing as a nation because we don’t have players playing in better professional leagues,” said Gagomokgwa.