Bantu a big let down

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Mikia Kalati

Bantu’s performance in Sunday’s preliminary round, second-leg tie of the 2015 African Champions League against AS Mangasport of Gabon at Setsoto Stadium was so poor I now doubt our teams’ ability to perform at the highest level.

Although the weekend match ended goalless, A Matšo Matebele crashed out of the competition on a 1-0 aggregate score due to their first-leg loss away in Gabon two weeks ago.

Yet if there was ever a chance for Lesotho to shine, this was it and Bantu blew this great opportunity with a showing as pedestrian as it was shameful if not an outright disgrace.

The bottom line is nothing impressed me on Sunday. Bantu looked like a team that did not have a game-plan and played the worst football I have ever witnessed from a Lesotho team in this competition.

Our teams have largely been very poor in away matches, but mostly win their home ties, delighting the fans with good football which sadly, was not the case for Bantu on Sunday.

I was closely following the team’s preparations for the continental competition and believe  the players really let down their management because they were given everything they needed to beat Mangasport.

But maybe the bright side of this debacle was it gave Bantu the opportunity to learn one or two things about competition at the highest level of African football, where sound planning by the coaches is paramount, and the players’ commitment equally crucial.

A Matšo Matebele have been doing pretty well on the domestic scene, and I had such confidence in their ability to shine in their maiden appearance in this competition.

And after losing 1-0 in Moanda, I had been so confident Motlatsi Shale’s charges would steamroll the Gabonese side in the return leg, which however, proved to be misplaced optimism.

Not only were the players technically deficient, they did not show the hunger needed to win at this level of competition and from what I have seen of our teams over the years—Lioli, LCS, Matlama and now Bantu—I don’t think we will improve anytime soon in these continental tournaments.

After crashing out of these tournaments, we almost always blame the coaches but this time around, Bantu players should shoulder most of the blame for their failure to rise to the occasion on such a crucial day.

I think even if the match had gone on for the entire day, Bantu were not going to score—such was their lethargy on the forgettable afternoon.

And on the back of such a poor show, we surely cannot expect Likuena to do any better for the simple reason that the national team draws players from our premier league.

For me, it’s very disturbing that to this day Likuena are yet to qualify for a major international competition, particularly the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

I feel the whole sad situation requires a football indaba to plot the way forward because our football development has stagnated, if not regressed, over the years.

The country cannot afford to waste money on teams that fail so dismally and we need to introspect and see where we are going wrong as a nation.

Something is surely not right with our football and the sooner we hold serious discussions about it, the better for the nation.

It is understandable when we lose to the big guns of continental football, but it’s an absolute disgrace that Bantu were so terrible against a Gabon side that also looked out of its depth in this tournament.

A few years ago, the Lesotho Football Association decided to withdraw Likuena from competitions and focus on rebuilding the team.

Yet based on what has transpired since then, I doubt the move has produced the desired outcome so  relevant stakeholders should go back to the drawing board and come up with another rescue plan for our game.

 

 

 

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