Botswana star praises COSAFA for lifting junior football

Former Botswana Under-17 skipper Larona Modisaemang has praised COSAFA for giving young players exposure in the region as he builds towards the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship to be staged in Lusaka, Zambia from December 4-14.

Modisaemang believes the junior events prepare players for other continental and international competitions and sees the great value that the tournaments bring to soccer in the region.

“It is an excellent tournament; you only have to look back through the years to see the number of top players that have been developed through the COSAFA. A lot of them are playing, or did play, in the elite leagues, including the likes of Dipsy Selolwane, Mogakolodi Ngele and Kabelo Dambe, who I look up to,” Modisaemang said.

“Many have made their mark in the tournament. I look at my brother Thatayaone Kgamanyane, who played his first COSAFA Cup and earned a contract at Chippa United [in South Africa], and Lesenya Ramoraka, who earned contract at Highlands Park, so this really motivates me a lot.

“They made a huge impact for Botswana in the competition and that is why they ended up signing for top clubs in South Africa.    “COSAFA is an excellent stepping-stone and in my opinion it is vital that teams take it seriously because the opportunity for growth as a player is huge. The experience that we youngsters can gain in the competition can see us develop much quicker as players. It is hugely beneficial,” the 17-year-old says.

The skipper was also pleased with the inclusion of Tanzania as a guest nation in last year’s AUSC Region 5 tournament in Botswana. He said they learnt a lot from them and praised COSAFA for always bringing guest countries to compete.

Botswana has always had it hard in the COSAFA Under-17 Championship. Even though this year they could not go to the competition because of final examinations, he hopes they will go all out as an Under-20 and bring positive results in December.

Modisaemang is very excited about his promotion and believes Young Zebras will be going all-out to claim their first title.    “It’s been a long time with Botswana not winning any trophy and I guess the time is now to win as the Botswana Football Association cabinet is really dusty. Any tournament that we enter, we go there to win it and this will be no different.

“We have everything to gain, a trophy, but also there are sure to be plenty of scouts watching the competition and that provides, especially us the younger players, an opportunity to impress,” the skilful Modisaemang said.

By Gaone Pearl Kerileng