…as Bantu host LDF in potential thriller
Bantu coach Motlatsi Shale has challenged his charges to show the characteristics of champions by returning to winning ways against table-topping Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) on Sunday.
The Mafeteng-based league champions were humiliated 1-0 by basement side Nyenye Rovers in Maputsoe last Sunday and are looking at bouncing back when they battle LDF at Leshoboro stadium, in what promises to be a cracker of a Vodacom Premier League match.
Shale believes some of his players have become “too comfortable” and are now underperforming under the wrong impression that they are indispensible.
“I think many of the players are now in this comfort zone after leading the club to the league and Independence Cup titles last season,” Shale told the Lesotho Times this week.
“I had requested management to release some of the players so we could bring new faces that are hungry for success but this did not happen, and this is one of the prices we are paying for that decision not to let them go.”
According to Shale, some of the players have lost respect for the club and are no longer motivated enough to give their all for the team.
Yet the award-winning coach, who took Bantu to their first Premier League title last season, remains confident of a win come Sunday.
“LDF are a good side and have been doing very well this season hence their position at the top of the Premier League log, while we are in third position (with 20 and 18 points after nine and 10 matches respectively). However, it is important that we get back to winning ways as soon as possible after failing to do so in our two previous league matches,” said Shale.
“It’s my responsibility, as a coach, to help the team get back to their best again despite the challenge we have. At the moment, my squad is very thin due to the unavailability of some key players due to injury, but those we have must dig deeper to come up with results again.
“We need to be consistent going forward if we are to defend our league title.”
On his part, LDF coach, Malefetsane Pheko, believes his team will be up to the challenge against Bantu.
“I’m not happy with our recent results, particularly the 3-0 loss to Lioli,” Pheko said.
“You are never happy to lose, as a coach, and despite poor officiating against Lioli, I think our team was also having a bad day in office.
“However, against LCS in our last match, we were just unlucky not to have won as I feel we gave a good account of ourselves in the second half of the match, which however, ended in a draw.
“We have been working on rectifying our mistakes, especially in attack, where our finishing was very poor against Lioli. We must also work on our concentration which cost us the three points against Lioli.”
The LDF mentor said his side was in good physical shape to hand A Matšo Matebele their second successive defeat following last Sunday loss to Nyenye.
Meanwhile, in other Premier League matches scheduled for this weekend, bottom-of-the-table Qoaling Highlanders travel to St Monica’s on Saturday to face Nyenye Rovers, who have moved two places up the ladder into 12th position following last weekend’s shock win over Bantu.
The Qoaling-based side have been very poor this season and lost their last three matches which condemned them to bottom of the 14-team table.
Inconsistent LCS, who started the season on a high but are now struggling for form, will be at home to Mphatlatsane on Sunday.
Masheshena, as the Correctional Service side are also known, have moved from third to sixth position on the table over recent weeks, while the Tšepo Hlojeng-coached Mphatlatsane now occupy 10th position after losing 0-2 at home to Sundawana last week.
Premier League rookies-Kick4Life, who are in 8th position, host LMPS also on Sunday.
LMPS have only won once this campaign and are second from bottom on the table, with their single victory coming against Bantu.
The league newcomers, on the other hand, have done reasonably well in their first season of topflight football following three wins, and three draws and four losses so far this season.
The other matches involving Matlama, Lioli and Likhopo have been cancelled as the three teams have over three players each in the national team, Likuena, who played Gabon in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in Libreville yesterday.