BANTU striker Mokone Marabe says the coronavirus induced break has disrupted his side’s efforts to win its fourth league title.
The Lesotho international, who is among the longest serving players in the A Matšo Matebele roaster, told the Lesotho Times on Monday that the break has negatively affected the players physically and mentally.
Local soccer leagues have been on suspension since mid-March. The league was suspended before the government declared a state of emergency and subsequently imposed a national lockdown. The lockdown started on 30 March and was supposed to have ended on 21 April. It was however, extended to 5 May.
Although Lesotho has not recorded any cases, the authorities are on high alert to avoid possible spread of the virus considering that neighbouring South Africa has now recorded had recorded over 10 000 cases and over 200 deaths.
The pandemic has brought the sporting world to a standstill, with the world’s biggest sporting event- the Olympics-being shelved for next year. The Olympics were meant to be held in Tokyo in July and August this year.
Similarly, Lesotho’s sporting activities, including soccer have all been put on ice.
Marabe said the players are enduring a tough period.
“This is a very difficult period for the players since we are affected physically because we can’t train as a team,” Marabe said.
“Training alone does not have the same impact as training with a team.
“We have also been affected mentally because the situation plays with your mind. It gets scary because you ask questions and give imaginary answers. It’s now obvious that things will never be the same.”
Marabe said they have many unanswered questions about what is going to happen but said for some the break could be a blessing.
“It is a forced break and there are just too many questions that one has and unfortunately there are no answers and what we can only do is hope things get back to normal in time.
“It has been a very interesting season and the break is going to affect us differently as it could be a blessing for others.”
Bantu went into the break leading the 14-team league table with 50 points followed by Matlama in second with 34 points. Bantu were just three matches away from clinching the league title.
Fistos, as Marabe is affectionately known in football circles, said as much as their title chances are under threat, he still believes that they will be crowned champions.
“Of course, we only needed to collect nine points from our remaining matches to be crowned champions and I know that it’s not going to be easy to achieve that when the action resumes. The reason is that our momentum has been disrupted and some may actually benefit from the protracted break.
“We deserve the title this season no matter what happens. Our work rate and the results are adequate proof for that.
“Football is going to be different when we return because we may end up playing behind closed doors and we all know how that is. It’s going be completely different and all the teams that we haven’t played will not want to lose against us. However, whatever happens, we won’t fail to get nine points from eight matches.”
Marabe has relied on a program that he got from both his club and national team coaches.
“I am following the programmes. Players must remain focused and ensure that they don’t lose fitness because we don’t know when we will be needed to go back. We must be ready all the time,” Marabe said.