Mas­sive test for Bantu

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

Bantu face one of their big­gest tests this week­end when they host Gabon’s Man­gas­port in the african Cham­pi­ons League pre­lim­i­nary round sec­ond leg qual­i­fier at Set­soto Sta­dium.

af­ter go­ing down 1-0 in the first leg a fort­night ago away in Gabon, our de­fend­ing Vo­da­com Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons would have to score twice with­out con­ced­ing any goals to ad­vance to the next stage of the con­ti­nen­tal show­case.

this is no easy task, whichever way one looks at it, hence my de­ci­sion to ded­i­cate this col­umn to a Matšo Mate­bele in the hope they are go­ing to make us proud come Sun­day.

We all know lo­cal teams have been very dis­ap­point­ing in this com­pe­ti­tion and I sin­cerely hope it will be a dif­fer­ent story with Bantu.

I hon­estly be­lieve they did quite well in the first leg match af­ter trav­el­ling for al­most two days to reach the home of AS Man­gas­port, which means they were tired when they even­tu­ally took to the pitch.

I have al­ways been wor­ried about how our teams per­form away from home, with the heavy losses they usu­ally suf­fer mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for a come­back in the re­turn leg.

But with such a nar­row loss, Bantu stand a good chance of over­haul­ing the deficit and pro­gress­ing in the tour­na­ment at the ex­pense of the Gabonese side.

Yet for this to hap­pen, the team needs a good game-plan, which in­cludes en­sur­ing the play­ers are not over-con­fi­dent sim­ply be­cause they would be play­ing be­fore their own fans.

I would sug­gest a cau­tious ap­proach to the game on Sun­day, but with an acute aware­ness that two goals would still be needed in or­der to go past this pre­lim­i­nary stage.

Our teams have pre­vi­ously over­come first-leg de­feats and a good ex­am­ple is that of our na­tional team, Likuena.

af­ter los­ing 1-0 away to Liberia in the 2015 africa Cup of na- tions penul­ti­mate pre­lim­i­nar­ies, Likuena beat the highly-re­garded Liberi­ans 2-0 here at home to set a date with Kenya.

the good thing for Bantu is play­ers such as thabo Ma­su­alle and Sepir­iti Male­fane were part of the Likuena team at the time, so they can share that ex­pe­ri­ence with their team­mates and work the same magic against Man­gas­port.

Bantu also have enough ex­pe­ri­ence in their squad and the fact that striker Litšepe Marabe has con­tin­ued to score is an­other rea­son to be­lieve they can beat the Gabonese gi­ants on Sun­day.

the hit­man scored a blin­der in Satur­day’s 1-1 draw against LCS at LCS Ground—his 15th league goal of the sea­son.

Marabe is one of those play­ers who can rise to the oc­ca­sion es­pe­cially when his con­fi­dence is so high and he is en­joy­ing the form of his life.

the other com­fort­ing thought is he has done it be­fore on the big stage and one re­calls his strike for Mat­lama in the 2-1 win over South Africa’s Su­pers­port United at Set­soto in the 2011 edi­tion of the same Cham­pi­ons League. un­for­tu­nately, tse Put­soa lost 3-2 on ag­gre­gate, and crashed out of the tour­na­ment.

Marabe was at it again in the 2014 World Cup qual­i­fiers when his won­der-strike earned Likuena a 1-1 draw against Zam­bia at Set­soto sta­dium.

that was in 2013 and against the very same Zam­bian team that had been crowned african cham­pi­ons the pre­vi­ous year.

What I’m sim­ply say­ing is that Marabe will be one of the play­ers car­ry­ing the hopes of many Ba­sotho on Sun­day, but for him to be ef­fec­tive, his team­mates would also have to come to the party.

Mean­while, I was also very touched to learn that Bantu man­age­ment have teamed up with their sup­port­ers to raise the M85 000 that in­jured striker, tse­bang ‘Owen’ Le­bata, needs to have an op­er­a­tion on his trou­ble­some knee.

We all know what ‘Owen’ can do on his day, which is why I am happy his team is do­ing some­thing to en­sure he plays the game once again.

Le­bata was the Premier­ship’s top goal-scorer last sea­son and also voted the league’s Player’s Player of the Year.

I be­came wor­ried when I heard him say he was con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the game due to the in­jury, which has been trou­bling him since 2010.

this boy still has a lot to of­fer his coun­try and team and I’m happy with the ini­tia­tive taken to help him over­come his night­mare.

And as for Sun­day against Man­gas­port, I say Good Luck a Matšo Mate­bele. Do us proud!

Bantu striker Litšepe Marabe.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.