Tuesday was a sad day for Bafana Bafana midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo after his side Brentford FC fell short of their goal of playing in the English Premiership next season.
The Bees, as Mokotjo’s side is called by the faithful, went down 2-1 to their west London rivals Fulham in a dramatic Championship play-off final that was decided in extra-time at Wembley Stadium.
The 29-year-old from Odendaalsrus in the Free State did not feature in the final at Wembley Stadium as he has not fully recovered from an Achilles tendon injury.
Mokotjo has endured an injury-ravaged spell since he helped Bafana to a quarterfinal finish at the Afcon tournament in Egypt exactly a year ago. He had a knee injury but bounced back and played three games for Brentford before injury once again kept him down.
However, Mokotjo seemed to have done enough to prove his worth as he was handed a contract extension until the end of the delayed season after his initial deal lapsed in June.
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank, who calls Mokotjo by his nickname “The General”, was hoping that the holding midfielder would be available to help the Bees in their ninth bid for promotion.
Mokotjo featured for 70 minutes in a 1-1 drawn friendly match against Portsmouth on June 21.
The performance left Frank waxing lyrical about the talent of the midfielder, citing the South African’s “experience, coolness and passing ability” among Mokotjo’s key attributes.
“He is so reliable and adds so much to the group, both in training and in matches. You can see when he steps on to the pitch how it raises the levels of those around him,” the coach was quoted as saying after announcing Mokotjo’s contract extension in June.
But it remains to be seen if indeed these traits will open up the way for Mokotjo to earn a new long-term deal.
Following their heartbreak on Tuesday, Frank said “the sun will rise again tomorrow”, meaning the Bees will chase the elusive dream of promotion again next season.
Brentford have not played in England’s top flight structure since 1947.
They have had nine unsuccessful attempts in the play-offs, all without winning promotion.
But it has been an impressive run by Brentford, who finished third on the Championship table, 12 points adrift of winners Leeds United.
Leeds, who are former Bafana captain Lucas Radebe’s old club, gained automatic promotion last month, while Mokotjo and his side did enough to secure a play-off spot. But it was not to be as the
Bees’ EPL dream went up in smoke at the empty Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night.