We talk exclusively to the boys at their Rustenburg camp
Voice Sport tracked the national team to their South African camp at the
Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg on Tuesday for an exclusive interview.
The national team has been undergoing intensive training for the past 10
days at the state of the art sporting facility, and is expected back in the
country on Friday for a two-day festive break before a scheduled friendly
match against Zimbabwe.
For the 25 men who made it into coach Stanley Tshosane’s team the prospect
of spending Christmas in camp and New Year’s Eve in a foreign country
does not worry them at all – in fact some said it would not have concerned
them had the camp gone on throughout the festive season.
We arrive at 11am to find the players in high spirits at the state of the art high performance centre, and looking around it is not difficult to see why the local heroes want an extended stay at the magnificent sports structure that housed England during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Surprised by our unexpected visit the national heroes can’t help but wax lyrical about their experiences at Bafokeng. This is what they had to say.
Noah Maposa (26)
We are in a wonderful place. Everything here is five star. The pitches, food, gym and everything about the facility is excellent. There is absolutely nothing to complain about. From the mood I see from all the players, even if we were not to get the two-day break, none of them would complain. We all know that we have a monumental task of representing our country at the AFCON finals in Gabon and if preparing for this historic showpiece requires us to miss Christmas, so be it. However since we have been offered the two days, I intend to spend it with my family before I go back into camp on Boxing Day.
Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele (21)
I have been here for nine days and I can feel the difference already. My body is well toned and I feel super charged. We have been training three times a day and it has done wonders for us. Most of us are aware that we are not going to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with our families, but we don’t mind that much; there is a more important job ahead and that is our focus.
I would however like to wish Batswana a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Joel Mogorosi (27)
This is the kind of facility our country should be striving to have. It is the standard that we want especially if we are at this stage of our football. I have seen the dedication in each one of these guys and it is humbling. Everyone is trying their best and pushing really hard. The morale is still high, we have qualified for AFCON and we deserve to walk with our heads held high.
I urge my fellow countrymen to have a different Christmas this year. They should be very careful and value life otherwise they are going to miss our historic AFCON debut. For me Christmas will be spent with my family. I’m one of the fortunate ones because my home village is very close to Gaborone, but some come very far and will have to spend their two-day break in the city.
Jerome Ramatlhakwana (26)
I know I have to put in extra effort as I have not seen game time in a long time, however I’m just relieved that my standoff with Santos is finally over and now I can focus on finding a new team. At the moment I’m not in a position to say whether I have offers or not but I know something will come up. People should know that I was not really shocked when I was nominated for a CAF award because I knew I did well during the qualifiers to warrant some kind of recognition. Even though I did not make it to the final three it was a great moment for me. I very humbled by the trust coach Stanley Tshosane has shown in me and I always try very hard to repay him with an excellent performance.
Another thing that I would like to say is that our supporters should not be worried by our opening fixture against Ghana. They have some of the best players in the world, but they know nothing about us except maybe from a couple of videos they have. I find a very high possibility of an upset. We have a great coach in Stan and that should be a lesson to other African countries to never underestimate their own. Stan has already delivered for his country.
“I’m used to being in camp, I have been doing it all my playing life and missing Christmas does not bother me in the least, I however wish Batswana a fabulous festive. Don’t drink and drive.
Mompati Thuma (29)
The nation should not worry about reports that the team intends to boycott AFCON concerning the issue of incentives. We are grown ups and would not hold the country at ransom. Even though money is of importance it is not everything, we have a duty of representing our nation and we are going to do that, money or no money. We have met with Botswana Football Association President David Fani and his vice Dintle Mphele where the issue was discussed and we have every confidence that it will be resolved.
Well as most of you have already guessed, I might be the one to keep an eye on Asamoah Gyan, who was the star for Ghana during the 2010 World Cup. I’m not having sleepless nights because I have played against players better than him. When we trot on to the pitch, names are forgotten, it will be 11 men against 11 men and the most prepared will prevail.
It is great that we are in a facility that hosted one of the biggest teams in
Europe, but none of the players cared about which England star slept in which room. However we were told that the room that was used by David Beckham was out of bounds. Together with the Bafokeng King’s room they are not for public use.
As for Christmas I’m one of the unfortunate one who comes very far and if I had a plane I would fly to Nata to spend Christmas with my family. I have no choice but to remain in Gaborone and wait for another camp.
One last thing Batswana should stop criticising our style of play; it is not a secret that our football standard is lower than most African countries and we are only playing to, our strengths which has worked well so far.