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Don't blame maestro Mokotjo for the citizenship fiasco

Soccer
JOHANNESBURG - Kamohelo Mokotjo did what he had to do.

And I am almost certain that if you ask any of South Africa’s older generation who had their time in the European sun, they will tell you they'd have either done the same thing or would have gone about it in a similar fashion.

Sorry if you aren’t caught up yet, but this story of Mokotjo taking up Dutch citizenship and being forced to renounce his own nationality has been doing the rounds.

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Kamohelo Mokotjo returned to the national team in Saturday's match against Guinea-Bissau at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

It’s kept us busy - guessing whether he is a Dutchman or a South African.

At some point, before honourable Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba intervened, Bafana Bafana caretaker coach Owen da Gama had actually called up a foreigner. I’ve heard several people asking for Mokotjo to offer an apology for deciding to abandon his South African passport in December. It’s hogwash if you ask me, pardon my French.

Why should he? Put yourself in his shoes. You are 26-years-old, probably nearing the peak of your football career and there are numerous clubs from better leagues than Holland’s Eredivisie making enquires about your services, but you have no hope in hell of making the step up because you are short of national team caps.

Then your agent, club or whoever helps you make whatever decision best serves your interest in this short career tells you that taking up a European passport will guarantee you don’t have to deal with the headache of begging the Bafana coach to give you game time once in a while.

If you have been following Mokotjo’s fascinating tale you will know that his relationship with axed national team coach Shakes Mashaba was non-existent, to say the least.

What do you do? Don’t answer, it’s a rhetorical question.

As the kids say these days: “You do you”, which is what Mokotjo did. He got up, rang the Dutch embassy and told them he wants to become a citizen and was only happy to kiss his SA nationality goodbye - to become a superstar and possibly this country’s best export. But why not also pick up the phone and tell Safa that he’s made up his mind and is choosing no longer to be one of the boys, I hear you ask. Well, he didn’t really have to. But apparently he did.

To date, the association deny ever receiving communication from Mokotjo about anything - whether it’s his conclusion to “retire” from international football back in April last year or this whole citizenship fiasco.

This columnist has recently been told that the player sent an e-mail that was short and straight to the point after Mashaba had called him up for back-to-back 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Cameroon a year ago, only to leave him out in the stands away in Limbe for the first match and then as an unused substitute in Durban a few days later, actions that would have been understandable if Mokotjo was a fringe player at FC Twente or just a mere Bafana hopeful.

But the thing is, this guy has been a consistent performer for years now and his appearance against Guinea-Bissau on Saturday afternoon, after Gigaba had granted him permission to carry on as a citizen of his native country, was only his sixth cap. Awful.

By the way, I am told the e-mail was ignored and treated as junk mail, so don’t blame Mokotjo, he was only looking out for number one.

The Star

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