Stopping shots for Notwane

Tshepo Kehimile

Keeper’s heroics provides light amid Toronto’s darkness

While much of the attention has been on Notwane FC’s lack of firepower up front – they have now failed to score in six consecutive games – 28-year-old Mabitso Rapowa has been a busy man in Toronto’s goal.

The well-travelled shot-stopper was at his brilliant best on Saturday, pulling off a number of world class saves to hold Gaborone United to a goalless draw and earn Notwane their first point of the season.

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Rapowa’s heroics marked the latest eye-catching performance from a keeper who, up until this season, had spent most of his career in the lower leagues of Botswana football.

And whilst Notwane’s struggles this season are well documented – they currently sit rock bottom of the Premier League on -5 points – Rapowa has undoubtedly been the club’s stand out player.

To put the Thamaga native’s form into context, he has conceded the same number of goals (seven in six matches) as second-placed Township Rollers.

Speaking to Voice Sport immediately after the Gaborone derby, Rapowa admitted his journey to the top has been a tough one.

Having helped Notwane gain promotion to the Premier League in 2018, he was released by the club and spent last season with Gilport Lions in the First Division South.

However, Toronto realised the error of their ways and re-signed the glove-man at the start of the season.

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“My football career was not as smooth as one may think because I was part of the team that helped Notwane FC to get promoted to the elite league recently but somehow I was released. But I returned with a very strong character to finally be in the team and play regularly in the highest level of domestic football in the country,” said the keeper, who counts Thamaga Swallows, Thamaga Shooting Stars, Sua Flamingoes and Black Forest amongst his former clubs.

Quizzed about his ambitions as a player and his role model, Rapowa replied immediately, “I grew up watching the German and Barcelona goalkeeper, Marc Andre Ter Stegen – I want to be like him!

“According to me, he is one of the best shot-stoppers in the world. Moreover, it is every player’s dream to represent his country at national level despite difficult competition that I face from other goalkeepers in the country!”

Turning his attention to Notwane’s current predicament, Rapowa stressed they were hard at work on the training ground in a bid to end their goal drought, which now stretches to nine hours of football.

“This situation we are in is bad and it has really affected us as players. But we are working really hard to find our goal scoring boots. That has simply been our main focus, every training session we work on scoring goals and I hope things work out just fine for us because time is not on our side as well. We need to start firing those goals and win matches to get out of the imminent relegation zone!”

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As Notwane go on the hunt for goals in the coming weeks, Rapowa will be doing his best to keep them out.

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