The glitzy 2016/17 BTC Premiership awards will be held tonight( Friday) at the GICC in Gaborone. Among the list of categories and impressive nominations the best goal keeper of the year is arguably the most intriguing.
The nominees for best goalkeeper of the season were the last to be released after the Botswana Premier League omitted to include them. The three nominees are Kabelo Dambe (Township Rollers), Antony Gouws (Jwaneng Galaxy) and Goitseone Phoko (Gaborone United). However the three nominees have all had their moments but the category is not without controversy. Following a blockbuster BPL season, there was plenty of both established and emerging talent to choose from. Local football pundits and supporters would argue that there were a lot of brilliant individual performances especially in the goalkeeping department.
A case in point is experienced Kabelo Dambe who has had a rather average season. Injury prone Dambe’s season was highly characterised by a shoulder injury, and he missed a lot of important games against Mochudi Centre Chiefs, Gaborone United and BDF XI.The lanky former Platinum Stars goal minder has however been criticised for his failures to cut crosses in the 18-yard area. This weakness on Dambe’s part was repeated this season.
Although he pitched up during the last lap of the season, Dambe has almost equally shared the goalpost with young Keagile Kgosipula. However Dambe’s chief competitor Mwampule Masule has also had a considerable share of game time.
Another surprise nomination is Gaborone United’s agile last line of defence, Goitseone Phoko who was predominantly on recovery mode this season. The award-winning goalkeeper spent almost a year without his gloves while nursing a protracted knee injury.
Phoko has also had a mixed season when he committed rather silly mistakes, costing his side valuable points against Orapa United and BDF XI in the first leg. Phoko caused a stir among GU supporters as he continued to fumble in an area which was once his comfort zone.Midway into the Season Phoko was recovering and had a very brilliant second leg of the 2016/17 season and managed so make outstanding saves against a teething Black Forest attacks. Jwaneng Galaxy’s young goal minder, Anthony Gouws is the third nominee and comes as no surprise. Gouws was top notch this season and adjusted to the game quickly avoiding conceding early goals.Gouws was able to command his backline with every game thus limiting his own mistakes; the marvelous shot stopper has a big match temperament having put his gloves to test late in the season against Mochudi Centre Chiefs at Molepolole Sports Complex.
His stellar performance has however earned him a national team call up.
Another revelation for the past season that was unheeded is Miscellaneous’ outstanding goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga. His reflexes were like those of a cat the entire season as he meticulously stopped highflying shots with the tips of his fingers.
Although there is room to improve his positioning, the young lad always made sure he springs up to catch every ball that comes his way. He has since caught the eye of South African teams, with the First Division Side Mbombela United FC and an unnamed PSL club currently looking for his service.
Another outstanding talent is Katlego Mbise who was signed by Extension Gunners from Gilport Lions during the January transfer window. Mbise moved with his exceptional form. He was very instrumental in the Peleng outfit’s second round performance, helping them finish in the top-four bracket after Michael Pepukani left a mess behind the posts.
With reflexes like lightning, Michael James of Black Forest had a season to savor. He started his season against a marauding Township Rollers and conceded two reckless goals. He however picked himself up and produced a good performance the whole season.
James had the safe hands that couldn’t be breached often. He stood out in their 2-2 draw against Gaborone United in the second leg, denying Tumisang Orebonye what seemed like an obvious goal. The cat in James also pitched up in the first round against Mochudi Centre Chiefs keeping a clean sheet against the Kgatleng-based side.