PULLING UP WITH SOX
Former Zebras striker Tshepiso ‘Sox’ Molwantwa is arguably one of the most talented footballers the country has ever produced.
The 38-year-old led the national team’s frontline for over eight years – from 1998 to 2008 – winning 44 caps and scoring eight goals in the process.
While the return may sound less than impressive, it actually makes Molwantwa the country’s third highest international goal scorer, behind Joel Mogorosi (10) and Diphetego Selolwane (13).
Although he made his senior debut as a 19-year-old in a forgettable goalless draw against Lesotho in January 1998, Molwantwa’s journey with the Zebras actually started three years earlier.
In 1995 he was part of the history making U-17 national squad, which qualified for the African U-17 Championships in Bamako, Mali, becoming the first side from Botswana to compete at a continental tournament.
The young Zebras qualified for the competition by beating Malawi 2-1 over two legs.
The team had previously been hammered 6-1 by Zambia in the first qualifying round but received a reprieve when the Zambians were later disqualified.
Although the team would lose all three games they played in, scoring just one goal, Molwantwa has fond memories of those days.
“We had a brilliant team and we enjoyed every moment. That time when we just played for pride and there were no cases of boycotting the game demanding appearance fees. That time in national team camp it was P100 per day and junior teams P50. My passion for the game has kept me going all these years,” he said
The Mali adventure opened doors for Sox and he received offers from some of the country’s biggest clubs.
In the end, he decided to settle for Township Rollers.
With his distinctive dreadlocks, silky skills and unnerving knack for scoring crucial goals, Molwantwa quickly established himself as a fans favourite at Popa.
Perhaps his crowning moment came in one of his first seasons with the club when he scored a hattrick in the 1996 Coca Cola Cup final 4-2 triumph against Gaborone United.
The feat ensured he forever carved his name into Mapalastina folklore.
After a successful three-year spell at Rollers, Molwantwa shocked many when he left for the club’s bitter rivals. However, the move was short lived – after four games at Magosi he returned to Rollers because his ‘heart was still with Popa’.
Sox would eventually leave his beloved Rollers after an 11-year stay, joining Notwane in 2007.
Looking back on his career, Molwantwa said his most memorable game was a 3-1 away victory over Malawi in a World Cup Qualifier back in 2005.
Another proud moment – and a favourite amongst Zebras fans – for Sox was his wonderful solo strike in a 4-1 win against Lesotho in 2003
Molwantwa believes the country’s footballing fortunes began to improve when Jelusic Vaseline took over as head coach in 2006.
According to Molwantwa, before the Serbian’s arrival, Botswana were regarded as one of the whipping boys of international football. He said Vaseline’s line up is the one that qualified for AFCON in 2012 under the tutelage of Stanley Tshosane.
The former Zebras superstar is now a Player Assistant Coach at Tlokweng Red Sparks, which got promoted to the First Division this season.
Away from football, Sox is an accomplished farmer and also works as a professional mechanic.