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Is JJ the right striker for Zebras?

Publishing Date : 11 September, 2017


He is arguably one of the maverick footballers in this country, although with little success, but Jerome Ramatlhakwane has style, attitude and skill in surplus. Ramatlhakwane has been both a darling and villain of the media and the country for his display in the playing field.

The 31-year old has been in sparkling form for both his club and the country after his career hit a rough patch during his time at South African club Vasco Da Gama, almost 5 years ago. The high profile move back to Township Rollers, Botswana’s  football giant, during this past transfer window it was argued that, a resurgent JJ one who now enjoys playing for his country will dominate- as he was no longer the sullen figure that resorted to theatrics to keep himself and the famously unforgiving national team supporters entertained. However, JJ’s new found avatar at the Zebras has yet to produce results for Coach David Bright.

But recalling the former Mochudi Centre Chiefs striker to the Zebras fold is evoking old-gone memories. Immediate memories include the goals in the last intriguing campaign for the Zebras, en route to the AFCON 2012 finals that once put him at the top of the summit as a joint leading scorer. Surely, Botswana has seen the striker being labelled as one of the best in Southern Africa, at least. Such a tag will only bid well for both Jerome and the Zebras who have struggled (and still do) to find a decent Number 9 since the days when Tshepiso Molwantwa ran the show.

In modern Botswana football, Omaatla Kebatho of Orapa United and the late Oliver Phikati have all flattered to deceive but with coaches not willing to give Mara Moloi enough opportunities, the Zebras’ striking situation has been a well documented issue. However, JJ’s past virtuoso show for his country has given the Zebras hope for the immediate future. In a team that is losing its renowned defensive stability, Jerome can however still score top marks in all aspects of the game, especially when he is working with a crafty midfielder.

Rollers’ love for the 31-year old is therefore no secret. The highly publicized transfer from Mochudi Centre Chiefs, after enduring a torrid time without a club before a late, but impressive spell at Chiefs saw Rollers taking him without second thoughts. To add the cherry on top, it is reported that JJ-who got the name from the charismatic former Zebras coach, Colwyn Rowe-remains one of the highest paid players in Botswana. Ramatlhakwane has room to thrive though age is a definite factor.

The link-up play was there to be seen in the premier league games at Centre Chiefs. With Ayanda Molefhe playing on the left and now the retired Pontsho Moloi on the right, JJ dropped deep, orchestrated play, won aerial duels, and of course took penalties. But his tendency of missing clear cut chances has earned him the wrath of Zebras supporters. His slow thinking at crucial times- like in a friendly game against Tanzania last weekend is seen to be his greatest weakness.



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