At a time when local players’ aptitude to withstand pressure in leagues abroad has come under scrutiny, there is visible light at the end of the tunnel.
Mogakolodi Ngele, who took the baton from the likes of Diphetogo Selolwane, Joel Mogorosi and Mogogi Gabonamong, has kept the fire burning over the years but now finds himself in lower table teams like Tshakuma Tsha Madzvivhandila.
It left Botswana without a torchbearer in the top tier of South Africa’s DSTV Premiership. The majority of players who have been signed by South African teams have found it difficult to stay in the neighbouring country, some returning home after failing to cement regular places.
However, that was not for long as a defender, Thatayaone ‘TT’ Ditlhokwe has stepped up and raised his hand well at Supersport United. The Zebras captain moved to Supersport United last season from Township Rollers and is already getting the much-deserved accolades in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL).
In the last seven days, he has put up sterling performances, helping his side register draws against Soweto giants, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Against Chiefs, in particular, Ditlhokwe was the wall between Chiefs’ relentless attacks and Supersport United’s defence and earned himself the man-of-the-match award. It did not take much time for Ditlhokwe to settle in at Supersport United despite arriving in the middle of last season.
By the end of the season, he had made 11 appearances as coach Kaitano Tembo showed why he lured him away from Rollers. Even with some few injury setbacks this season, Ditlhokwe has cemented his place at the heart of the Supersport United defence and has already made 13 appearances, a feat that other than Ngele, was last achieved by the likes of Gabonamong.
Besides his unquestionable talent, those who witnessed his rise to stardom from the early ages have singled out his die-hard attitude and level headed approach as key ingredients for his success.
At only 23-years-old, Ditlhokwe has also demonstrated
“I think TT has all the qualities to be one of the best players. I feel if he can focus more, he can even go far, not only at Supersport United but even further. He needs to keep it up and improve where he is lacking.
He is on the right track,” Gabonamong said of Ditlhokwe. Like Ditlhokwe, Gabonamong joined the PSL from Rollers, spending almost five years at Cape Town Santos before he moved to Supersport United and later Bloemfontein Celtic.
He said the most important thing is to keep it simple and maintain discipline every day. He said a professional setup is not a joke and requires a lot of hard work.
He added that at a professional level, there is always that thought of another player coming into the team to battle you for the same position, and that this keeps the player on their toes. “Every day is a competition in a professional setup, especially if you want to go far.
We need players that can go and play in Europe. Players need to dream more. To go to South Africa and come back home, I feel that you are lacking a lot of things.
If you fail to maintain total discipline in South Africa, where else do you want to play now,” he said.
Ditlhokwe started his professional football career at Nico United before he was snapped up by Gaborone United (GU). At GU he spent only one season and joined Rollers.