We gave it our best: Madidilane

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Mikia Kalati

BANTU coach James Madidilane has praised his team’s character despite their elimination from the CAF Confederations Cup following the 2-1 loss to Enugu Rangers on Sunday.

A Matšo Matebele went down fighting having scored an early goal in the second leg in the West African country but Rangers found their way back to clinch a 2-1 victory and book a place in the group stage of the competition on a 4-2.

Madidilane said his side will now shift its attention on defending their Econet Premier League title by using all the experience gathered playing continental football.

Bantu became the first Lesotho side to make-it past the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League in almost two decades after eliminating Township Rollers of Botswana last November but were relegated to the Confederations Cup after losing to AS VITA Club of DRC Congo in the first round.

“To be honest, it was a tough match on Sunday but we gave Rangers a good run for their money,” Madidilane said.

“It was different from the first leg and we scored first but we lost concentration while our defending was not poor and, in the end, conceded two goals within two minutes to lose the game.

“That made our lives difficult playing under the heat while the home side also had the crowd to their advantage.  I think they were the better team in all aspects.

“We did well in terms of ball possession because we had chances but we were not hurting them.

“Ultimately, the trip to Nigeria was a learning curve and I’m hopeful that the players will use that experience at home to defend our league title.”

Madidilane said his side missed a great opportunity by losing the first leg at home against Rangers because it was always going to be difficult playing away.

“In the first game, anyone will say that we could have won it but the second leg was different and now my hope is that we will use whatever we learnt to improve in the domestic league.

“We ended up chasing the game to try and get goals but it was so difficult for us. However, there are moments where I feel my team did well under that heat.

“In the end, the host team wanted the win more than we did and were a step ahead of us,” he said.

The former South African international also said his side did not have depth and also implored local players to work on their pace to succeed in regional competitions and even internationally.

“There are two issue that I think can also help the team that will represent Lesotho in the competition next year namely depth and speed. We can match other countries in terms of technique but we are too slow.

“The way we play in the domestic league is different from how others play. Speed is important in modern football. Opponents are very quick in getting into the box but with us it’s different so, we do not hurt them.

“My wish is that every local team works on these two issues just in case they will represent the country next year. They must have depth in their team and pace in transition as well as being organised in defence.

“All the goals that we conceded were similar and we lacked the speed to deal with them and those are the elements that we have to correct. We also need to learn to hurt opponent and be aggressive when we defend and attack,” he said.

The former Bloemfontein Celtic defender also said as a coach he works hard to improve players but said it is difficult when such players are in the twilight of their careers.

“Our League is competitive but cannot be compared with other leagues especially when you look at the playing speed. This is a huge problem in Lesotho.

“There is a lot of talent here and there are a lot of players whom I like but lack of speed is one of the issues that work against them especially when they go to South Africa.

“We are trying as coaches and speed is one of the elements that we are trying to improve but the players are struggling to adapt. For example, you cannot try and change Litšepe Marabe at 27.

“It’s easy to do it at an early age but very difficult at the senior level,” Madidilane said.

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