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Defenders: Who stood out in the last decade?

KABELO BORANABI MQONDISI DUBE
Legs of steel: Thuma had a stellar career
In the second installment of the best players to grace the Premiership since the game changing sponsorship from BTC a decade ago, writers, KABELO BORANABI & MQONDISI DUBE look at possibly the best back line in the last 10 years

Left backs

Edwin Olerile 

Olerile could claim the best left fullback title in the past decade. He was a household name at Township Rollers and was a very offensive defender. The diminutive fullback was ever present on the Rollers’ left side with his overlapping runs, pinpoint crosses and an eye for a goal. He crossed the road to join Gaborone United (GU) where he became an integral part of the team before being left in the cold by Argentine coach, Rodolfo Zapata. A return to Popa saw him shoot straight into the starting line up before he joined Mochudi Centre Chiefs where his elite league career waned. Olerile has won the Mascom Top 8 twice, FA Cup once and he is a three-time league champion. He captained the big three; GU, Rollers and Chiefs.

 

Mosimanegape Ramohibidu

‘Twizer’ did not have many admirers but his work on the field was undoubted. He was a neat fullback, who however lacked attacking prowess. He was comfortable on the ball and a very good crosser. His lack of speed meant he fitted the bill as traditional left back. He turned out for BDF XI, FC Satmos and BMC. He was also part of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Zebras squad.

 

James Kachinga

The Zambian was a robust defender with powerful runs down the left flank. Magosi’s success at the turn of the decade could be credited to their defenders and the Zambian was amongst the top performers. Had a cultured left foot, was deadly on set pieces and was a good crosser of the ball. He played for Chiefs and GU before returning to his homeland.

 

Other contenders

Ontse ‘Manich’ Ntesa

Known for his marauding runs down the left, Ntesa made his name while at Ecco City Greens before migrating down south to join Mochudi Centre Chiefs. But he did not have a lasting impact, and failed to match the heights that he had reached while at ECCO. He had the right physical attributes, and was a tight marker, while he had the speed to dart down the flank and put in a decent cross.

 

Mooketsi Otlantshekela

One of the best left footed players in the league, Otlantshekela shone for BDF XI before a dream move to Rollers, marked a sharp decline in his fortunes. He has since been forgotten. Otlantshekela was robust, and like modern day left backs, contributed massively in attack, while not completely neglecting his defensive duties.

 

Centre backs

Mompati Thuma

The former Zebras defender was ever present in the BDF XI line up. Thuma, known as ‘Legs of Steel’ enhanced his reputation as the

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country’s best centre half before retiring in the early BTC Premiership era. He is known for his sliding tackles and defence marshaling skills. Despite his position he was a neat defender and very disciplined. He captained the Zebras at the only AFCON finals appearance in 2012. 

 

Itai Gwandu

Despite leaving the local scene early, Gwandu is one of the best centre backs to grace local football. He was good on air as he was on the ball. Gwandu commanded his defence line very well and hardly missed a tackle. The Zimbabwean won the title with Chiefs, Rollers and GU before joining FC Platinum in his homeland.

 

Ndiyapo Letsholathebe

Who can forget the colossal towering figure in the heart of the Jungle Kings’ defence? Letsholathebe was not the neatest defenders but he was not too aggressive either. He read the game well and during his time, was one of the few centre halves who was comfortable on the ball. Letsholathebe played all the games at the AFCON finals alongside Thuma.

 

Other contenders

Given Mpundu

As cool as cucumber, Mpundu was a rare gem in defence for giants, Chiefs and for GU. He hardly got his foot wrong and was a commanding presence at centre back, at one stage narrowly missing out on the player of the season award.

 

Joseph ‘Big Joe’ Phethogo

His life was cut short just after he had led GU to their first and only league title since their return from Division One in 2004. He was a brilliant leader and clean tackling defender.

 

Right backs

Katlego ‘Finkie’ Mothibi

Still going on at this age after more than a decade in Extension Gunners’ black and white. A superb traditional full back who does not do a lot of runs going forward. A tight marker who hardly gets beaten on a one-on-one situation with wingers.

 

Musa Ohilwe

The burly Ohilwe was a regular feature in the national team. Steady but not necessarily spectacular, he did a good job at BMC, which earned him a regular call-up to the senior national side.

 

Tshepo Motlhabankwe

A versatile player, ‘Talk Talk’ shone as a holding midfielder at Gunners, shifted to both left and right back at Chiefs and Rollers, to prove his utility. He played all positions with aplomb.

One of the best players to grace the league in the last 10 years, with a never-say-die attitude and an enduring engine, which sustained him for 90minutes and beyond. Served the game diligently and was part of the squad that played at the 2012 AFCON finals. Mystery remains as to why he did not play abroad.



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