The omission of Township Rollers central defender Simisane Mathumo in the national team has already set the football divide into frenzy-fans and pundits alike are questioning as to why the talented player has not attracted the attention of the national team selectors.
Notwithstanding him being overlooked for the national team, his ‘steadily improving’ graph for the past three seasons has caused the player to be invited for a week long assessment by South African outfit, Ajax Cape Town. This could lead to a possible signing in the winter window. Questions have emanated as to whose footballing eyes between national team selectors and Ajax could be sharp in talent identification.
Three former national team defenders to look at the possibilities of Mathumo penetrating the South African market which has proved to be ‘too much’ for local players. According to former Uniao Flamingo Santos and national team defender, Khumo “Shoes” Motlhabane, there is a lot to be done before Mathumo can play in a professional league like PSL.
“For me I would give him two years with the team just to learn and adjust to new training methods, because local football training methods are very poor, so when you get that side it’s more like starting from scratch. Again he is too slow for professional football hence I’m saying two years will be enough to adjust and fit in the league. The speed of the game and the thinking should be up to standard for him to make it. However he is still young and can learn and it will depend on his eagerness and attitude that side,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, some are of the view that the player has all it takes and possesses all the qualities of a central defender. Positional discipline, good timing, reading of the game, aerial strength and being vocal are some factors scrutinized before acquiring a central defender. His partnership with Mogogi Gabonamong, has provided Rollers with tight security at the back.
“In my view I think he can make it considering his improvement since the arrival of Gabonamong. In the past he would commit silly fouls in not so dangerous areas, besides he was reckless in his positional discipline especially during his days with Oscar Ncenga. Nowadays he has all qualities of a good defender,” former Zimbabwean national team and Notwane defender Fabian Zulu said. The 183 cm tall 26 years old, weighing at 80kg, is a complete defender who can help the youthful Cape Town outfit according to EX national team defender, Seabo Gabanakgosi.
“He has the qualities to penetrate the market, his aerial strength and structure is necessary for a central defender. He has grown over the past seasons, only unfortunate to be omitted in the national team. He has played for junior teams and the experience he acquired at Rollers in continental games would come in handy for the team.”
Gabanakgosi believes that with Ajax being more like a developmental side, chances are the current crop of defenders would move at the end of the season leaving a vacancy for the Francistown born defender. Rivaldo Coetzee and Eric Chipeta have been the regular figures in the heart of Ajax defence. Mathumo’s physical structure matches those of the defenders which could make it easy for the team to sign him.
At a time of press Rollers were yet to get feedback from Ajax. “We are expecting the response anytime but you should understand that it is a procedure, the technical wing does their maths before the management can actually get back to us. The player is confident he did well to get a job that side but we will be awaiting response from that side,” Media relations officer Bafana Pheto said.