MASERU — Speculation over the future of Bantu coach Bafokeng Mohapi has swelled after the gaffer was not seen at the Vodacom Premier League side’s dugout for the third consecutive match at the weekend.
But Mohapi insists he is still in charge of the Mafeteng side who are fighting for a top-four finish in the Premiership.
Mohapi told the Lesotho Times he had asked for time out to resolve “personal problems” which he could not elaborate.
“I haven’t been able to coach the team because of personal problems,” he said.
“I spoke with the (club’s) committee and they decided that when I’m fine to continue then I can come back but because it is not within my control I can’t say when I will be back.”
Mohapi was not on the bench for Bantu’s last three fixtures against Likhopo, Mphatlalatsane and Joy, prompting speculation he could be on his way out of the club.
Bantu’s secretary Bytrian Ramogale also insisted Mohapi was still the coach.
“Our coach is Bafokeng Mohapi. Any talk otherwise is not true,” Ramogale said.
Despite Mohapi’s absence, Ramogale said they were in the right shape to face LCS in a crucial encounter at Central Prisons on Saturday.
Bantu will be desperate to bag maximum points to maintain their hope for a top-four finish.
The race for fourth is especially close this season with third-placed LMPS, on 46 points, and sixth-placed Bantu separated by just two points.
With fourth place getting M42 500 and fifth M26 500 the stakes are even higher.
“It is a big boost for the club and our goal as Bantu is to be in the top four,” Ramogale said.
“But we take every game as it comes.”
Bantu’s opponents LCS are enjoying a stable run of form and are unbeaten since February 13.
However Masheshena have drawn their last two matches against lowly Swallows and Rovers.
LCS captain Mpitsa Marai said it was critical for the former champions to win against Bantu if they were to secure a top-four finish as well.
“It is important for us because we have dropped unnecessary points in recent matches,” Marai said on Monday.
“The problem we have had is missing chances.
“But with our team the coach makes sure we work hard on any weaknesses at training to make sure we fix them.”
LCS will also be eager to avenge the 4-0 hiding they suffered at the hands of Bantu in the reverse fixture in Mafeteng on December 13.
“Bantu owe us. They beat us 4-0 in the first match and we want revenge,” Marai said.
“That was the time when we had no coach but this is a different LCS team.”
But Ramogale said Bantu would travel to Central Prisons without fear.
“LCS is not a team that we fear,” Ramogale said.
“This is a new Bantu and we have been introducing new players who are doing well.”
The other two sides in contention for a top-four spot, LMPS and LDF, are both away from home on Saturday.
Simunye face Swallows while Sohle-Sohle battle Mphatlalatsane.
Elsewhere, relegation-haunted Nyenye Rovers, on 25 points, have to win when they host already demoted Rovers in Maputsoe.
The Lebajoa Mphongoa-coached outfit are four points from safety with four matches remaining.
A side in a similar predicament are Majantja who need all three points against Linare in Hlotse to keep their slim survival hopes alive.
Saturday: LCS vs Bantu (Central Prisons), Nyenye Rovers vs Rovers (Maputsoe), Lerotholi Polytechnic vs Joy (Fokothi), Swallows vs LMPS (Mazenod), Mphatlalatsane vs LDF (St Monica’s), Linare vs Majantja (Hlotse).