Zebras missing a big game specialist

Is Joel Mogorosi the missing link for Zebras? His statistics suggest so


When Major David Bright took over as the new Zebras coach in 2017 he stated that he was moving in a new direction and hinted that a lot of the ‘old guard’ would hardly get game time as he wanted to usher in a new era. In the same introductory press conference he was also quick to underline that he would not completely shut the door on experienced players but he would rather prioritize a new breed of players.

In Bright’s current spell as the national team coach the biggest challenge for his charges has been scoring goals, the Zebras took four games to register their first goal in the AFCON 2019 Qualifiers with Keeagile Kobe scoring Zebras’ goal in the 2-1 defeat against table topping Mauritania on Sunday.

While scoring goals is the team’s ‘Achilles-heel’ the same task is a specialty for one Joel Mogorosi, who is the BTC Premiership’s top scorer with 8 goals so far. However, he is yet to be re-called to the national team.

At 34 years old, Mogorosi is no spring chicken but what separates him from most players of the same age has been his ability to adapt his style of play to fit the demands of the modern game.

As a young player he relied on his pace and trickery but most of his coaches will tell you that he is not the most talented but he is a hard working player. He has developed into a deadly box player, somewhat similar to the progression of players such as Cristiano Ronaldo who is showing no signs of slowing down despite being in his 30s.

Mogorosi’s hard work and his work ethic saw him reach his peak at a very late stage, especially in his international career whereby he became former coach Peter Butler’s go-to-player and the player did not disappoint.

The international stage seemed to bring the best out of Mogorosi , he has scored the highest number of goals for Zebras in competitive games in the last three years. Mogorosi was a big game specialist who seemed to thrive on high pressure situations such as the classic games against Burkina Faso and Mali at the Francistown Sports Complex whereby he was the determining factor in crucial wins for the Zebras, ending a terrible record against West African teams.

In total, Mogorosi scored five goals across two major qualification campaigns. He scored two goals in the 2017 AFCON Qualifiers against Burkina Faso and Comoros, he was the top scorer in the whole of Group D as well.

He rose to the occasion once again in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, he scored two goals (home and away) against Eritrea in the first round tie as the Zebras eliminated their opponents. He added a third goal in the first leg of Zebras’ second round encounter against Mali in a 2-1 victory at the Francistown Sports Complex.

Football analyst Jimmy George believes that the Zebras are missing Mogorosi because of his ability to influence games. “We need a player of his experience and quality, he still has a lot to offer. Qualification campaigns are short term competitions and they need ready made players. Joel is a proven goal scorer, his presence would be vital in terms of helping the younger players learn from him. He scored every other game, that kind of form would have helped us score more goals. If he was replaced by a player of the same prolific nature then we would not be having scoring problems,” George told Gazette Sport.