Bantu in turmoil
Underperforming senior players face the boot Coaching department to undergo yet another shakeup
Bantu will offload underperforming senior players next month as the 2013/14 premier league champions desperately seek to end their shocking slump in form.
The Mafeteng outfit have lost their last four league matches by identical 1-0 margins and go to the midseason break languishing in seventh position on the 14-team premiership table.
Insiders told the Lesotho Times that the players have split into two camps in support of their preferred officials, resulting in disharmony which is now unraveling on the pitch.
According to the sources, the situation is so tense it could see head-coach Motlatsi Shale leaving the club before the second round of the season begins late next month.
Shale returned to Bantu last month and replaced Katiso Mojakhomo who was fired due to poor results. However, Shale — who helped Bantu to their first premier league title in 2013/14 but left the team before the start of the current campaign after management refused to renew his contract—has lost all the four matches he has been in charge.
But while club president Leuta John Leuta has downplayed reports of unrest at the club, he concedes the poor form has to end sooner rather than later.
“It is indeed frustrating to see the team in this state, but what I can promise our supporters is they are going to see many changes when the second round resumes next month. We are going to make changes in our technical department while we will also be releasing some players who have become so comfortable at the club simply because they have been here for a long time,” Leuta said.
“If you look at our team, we have so many players who have been with us for so long or who have won several titles with us. As a result, these players have lost that desire which used to make us such a force so the only thing that needs to be done is to get rid of them while others are going to be asked to account for this poor form.
“We already have young players from our feeder team, Mafeteng Stars, who have been training with the senior side so they will start playing when the second round gets underway.
“This is a big team and we can’t finish the league outside the top four. We had a meeting with our supporters yesterday; we listened to their grievances and promised to work on them to restore this team’s pride.”
Leuta, who is also the premier league chairperson, said the players had been given time-off but return to training on 4 January. He however, dismissed claims that the coaching department, management and players had been split into feuding camps.
According to the insiders who spoke to the Lesotho Times, the presence of club legend Lehlohonolo Seema, who was appointed technical director last month, had created tension in the team. Seema is with South African premier league outfit, Bloemfontein Celtic, where he is Head of Youth Development.
Seema (35) also played for Celtic before leaving for Orlando Pirates in a sensational career which made him one of Lesotho’s most famous footballers.
“I don’t understand why people can think Seema is the problem in this team,” Leuta said.
“He has been with us for a long time and is doing a great job for the team. Yes, sometimes he conducts training but that only happens when he has been asked to help by the coaches; he does not impose himself on the team,” said Leuta.
Leuta also denied that goalkeeper Liteboho Mokhesi had deserted the team because of the alleged disharmony.
“I wasn’t even aware that people were thinking that Mokhesi had deserted the team because of the poor results. What I know is he told us that he would not be available after the Liphakoe match (in October) and would only return when the second round of the season resumes. So this issue that he has deserted the team is not true at all,” Leuta said.
File picture: Bantu players celebrate after being crowned 2015 Top4 champions last month.