Botswana Talent Scarce In DSTV Premiership

From 10 a decade ago to only one today, the declivity of Botswana players on SA’s top tier football is almost nought. Even so, football analyst Mqondisi Dube is pointing to a recent development at Kaizer Chiefs that “could force scouts of SA teams into a re-think”


A decade ago, Botswana football witnessed an unprecedented influx of exports into the DSTV Premiership.

The country had up to 10 players plying their trade in South Africa with Ofentse Nato, Joel Mogorosi, Mogogi Gabonamong, Diphetogo Selolwane, Ntsesang Simanyana, Galabgwe Moyana, Kekaetswe Moloi, Modiri Marumo, Kabelo Dambe and Mogakolodi Ngele in the top tier division then.

In the 2023-2024 season, the presence of Botswana talent has waned, with Kaizer Chiefs’ Thatayaone Ditlhokwe now the sole Motswana on the South African football scene.

Decline of the Zebras

The current picture is a stark contrast to 2013 when it seemed the Botswana Premier League was a new fish pond for South African clubs.

In those years, Botswana was a talent hub for South African clubs, with the likes of Gavin Hunt and Clint Larsen making personal scouting trips to the country during national team games. At the time, the Botswana national team was hot property after making waves with their qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

The decline of the national team has since seen the profile of Botswana players becoming less attractive to South African clubs, witness the current composition of Zebras players in the DSTV Premiership.

Lasting power

Selolwane, Gabonamong and Ngele are the only players who played for more than six years in South African football. Other players have averaged a stay of 12 to 18 months in recent years, and the pond seems to have dried up.

Sports analyst Mqondisi Dube believes that there is a combination of factors that have contributed to the low level of exports to SA. “The performance levels have dropped. Look no further than the Zebras’ performance and rankings,” he said in a telephone interview.

“Around a decade ago, the Zebras were ranked number 53 in FIFA World Rankings. They are nowhere near the top 100 now. Infact, they are closer to 150.”

Mental fortitude

“Then there is the issue of mental fortitude. I spoke to Mogogi (Gabonamong) not long ago and he raised this issue that some players are not strong enough to thrive in a foreign environment.

“You will remember there were a lot of players who returned to Botswana from SA without lasting the distance. The other issue could be the exposure of the local league and scouting.

“Maybe, basing on assumption and not on empirical evidence, the local league is not watched widely enough, especially that the national team standards have dropped.

“Scouts are excited when the product is good, which is mostly reflected at national level. But that said, not all is lost. The signing of Ditlhokwe by Chiefs could force scouts of SA teams into a re-think.”