Former national team captain Moitheri Ntobo has warned Bantu about the “tough competition and high standards” in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League tournament.
Bantu play Association Sportive (AS) Mangasport of Gabon in the preliminary round of the continental showcase whose first leg is scheduled for 15 February in Libreville and the reverse at Setsoto Stadium two weeks later.
Ntobo, who captained LCS in four Champions League preliminary round matches against Uganda Revenue Authority (Uganda) and Zimbabwe’s Dynamos, said Bantu—who are making their debut in the competition—would have to work extremely hard and as a team if they are to survive in this highly competitive and very lucrative tournament.
“It is not easy at all to play in this competition; it takes very brave men to play these giants of African football, and it doesn’t matter whether it is home or away, the competition is very tough because it involves champions.
“What Bantu have to do is give 100 percent to the game and always stay focused because any lapse in concentration could be disastrous,” Ntobo told the Lesotho Times.
“Bantu’s opponents will surely be out for an early goal and if they can hold them until at least halftime, then they stand a chance. Mangasport players will become frustrated if they fail to score early and their supporters will add to the pressure, but like I said, Bantu must not allow anything to distract them because if they do, they will pay dearly for it.”
Ntobo, who quit the national team, Likuena, last year to concentrate on club football, further said local teams struggle on the international stage largely due to poor preparations, adding he hoped Bantu would not be in a similar predicament.
“Technically, we are as good as these other teams, but physically, we are not as strong, and generally don’t have the huge physique of players from say, West Africa. This is a problem because with their huge frames, it is easy for them to just shove you out of the way, so we need to work hard to make sure we are equally strong.
“The other thing that puts us at a disadvantage is poor preparations. We start to prepare quite late while teams from other countries begin their preparations as soon as they know they have qualified for the competition, and this has always been our problem in these international competitions.”
|However, Ntobo said Bantu have a good technical team capable of taking the Mafeteng-based outfit past Mangasport. In addition to seasoned head-coach Motlatsi Shale, Bantu have also enlisted the services of former Likuena coach Leslie Notši on a consulting basis for their Champions League campaign.|
“Bantu’s coaching department is quite good, and can help the team beat Mangasport. But like I said, it won’t be easy.”
However, the LCS skipper said playing the first leg away from home could be helpful to A Matšo Matebele.
“It might work in their favor that they are starting the campaign away in Gabon. Bantu only have to make sure that they get an away goal because that will take away some pressure going into the return leg at Setsoto.”
Meanwhile, Bantu general manager, Khabisi Molantoa expressed confidence of a win in Libreville.
“Morale is very high in camp, and the boys are really looking forward to the match.
“You can see a lot of determination in the players, which gives us confidence that they will come back with something from Gabon, and then finish the job here at home,” Molantoa said.
He continued: “As management, we doing everything possible to make sure the players are in the right frame of mind going into this match.
“We are aware of the pressure the players are under and without the right guidance, this can have adverse effects on them and be a disaster for us.”