Madidilane loving it at Bantu

Madidilane loving it at Bantu

Luciah Phahla

Mafeteng – Since his appointment as Bantu coach in July to replace Bafokeng Mohapi, South Africa-born James Madidilane has breathed new hope into the Mafeteng giants.
Last season had been a disaster for the 2014 champions as they finished seventh in the Vodacom Premier League, their lowest placing since returning to the top-flight seven years ago.
However, this season has started on a brighter note.
After a lost year of ineptitude, Bantu are once again looking like a team that can challenge for the championship.
‘A Matšo Matebele’ are second on the log with 16 points from six games and have only lost one game.
On Monday, Madidilane sat down with thepost to outline his plans for Bantu this season and to discuss their chances of winning the league.
Madidilane, who is on a one-year contract in Mafeteng, also touched on the possibility of staying in Lesotho beyond his current deal.

How has the transition into your new role as Bantu coach gone? How has it been moving to live in Lesotho?

It’s a big opportunity for me and a chance to gain experience. I am really enjoying being here even though there’s too much pressure.
However, pressure builds me for the future, so I am fine.
Living in Lesotho is very challenging but for the mere fact that I am here for coaching, I think I have settled. I cannot compare living in South Africa and Lesotho.
Like I said, I am not here for anything but for coaching and for the players.
I have a job to do.

What made you decide to take the Bantu job given that you are coming from a higher level of football in South Africa?

I was an assistant coach in the ABC Motsepe League (South African third division) before this opportunity came.
I honestly didn’t want to rush into being a head coach but when this opportunity came I thought let me take it.

What kind of coach are you and what do you bring to Bantu?

I think the players are in the best position to say what kind of coach I am.
But for me, I am trying to be the best that I can be especially to the players that I coach because without them I am nothing.

What is your football philosophy? What is the vision that you have for Bantu in terms of the team’s style of play?

You know what, the style of football that I want to see and that I am trying to implement is to play simple and quick football.
When you watch European football, they have discipline and they are fast so that’s what I want to see us do or something like that.

What challenges have you faced since arriving at the club?

Every team has got its challenges, (for example) every team that plays against Bantu it’s like it is a cup final for them.
For us there is no small team in the league or an easy game.
Every game that we play we have to go all out.

What are your first impressions of your new squad, of Bantu Football Club and of Lesotho football?

The players have really cooperated well. Bantu has players who have got potential.
There are players whom I found at this club who actually deserve to play for the national team.
Yes, we have two or three players that have played in the national team before; some are currently playing for the national team, so I did get a team with quality players.
I got a good bunch of players who are disciplined and really talented.

What do you make of your team’s start to the season? Are the players getting used to your ideas? Which areas do you feel you can improve as a team?

I think the players have really responded very well even though there’s still room for improvement here and there.
We have a team but there isn’t depth in-terms of numbers.
We need backup players to fill up some positions which I cannot mention, maybe opponents will be reading this and see where they can attack us.
But, truly, there are positions where we do need backup players.

Bantu has had games against Matlama and Sky Battalion postponed already this season. Has this been frustrating? Has it affected your momentum?

To be honest with you, it is not good for us as a team. It is not good to be behind with games; you don’t know when you are going to play them and what their outcome will be.
Even this morning we were talking with my brother (Bantu assistant coach Bob Mafoso) about this issue and that I wish we can play those matches that are behind so that we are on level with other teams in terms of games played.
You never know, by the time the league brings them, the games might kill us or might work out for us, but we don’t want that situation. It will be good if we are on level games with other teams.

What are your targets as Bantu coach? What are your goals for this season? You are six points behind league leaders Kick4Life. Do you feel you can challenge for the title?

It’s really simple; the target is to win the league. It is not going to be easy but, we as Bantu, what we want is to win the league.
You can see that Kick4Life, (and) Lioli, they have good teams.
But our main target is to win the league; come the end of the season you may never know, the league is a marathon.
We are second on the log now, slowly but surely we are getting there.
As the coaches and the players we will be happy if we can win the league. We are playing to challenge for the league title.

Which teams have impressed you this season and which do you consider to be your biggest rivals in terms of challenging for trophies?

There are quite a few of them, you have got Kick4Life, you have got Lioli, besides them there are so many other teams who can compete and they are doing well for themselves.

Are there any players that have impressed you at Bantu and at other teams in the league?

In my team, everyone has impressed me, that’s why we are trying to give everyone a chance and they know it.
But there are some players that I would love to have in our team from other teams, let me not mention their names.
There’s one at Sky Battalion, there’s another one at Kick4Life who I can say have impressed me and I would love to have them (join Bantu) maybe come December.
We don’t know.

Will you be looking to make any signings in January to strengthen the squad? Or are you happy with your squad depth as it stands?

Like I said, we may need three or four players just to beef up our squad because in the second round injuries will come, bookings will come, so the number of players we have at the moment will work against us.
So we will look to add three if not four new players just to make sure our number of players is 27.
Right now we have plus or minus 23 players.

Where do you want to see Bantu at the end of the first round in December?

Our main aim was to be in first or second position by the time we go to the December break but now because of the two matches that we are behind with, I don’t know.
But we are not far; we are still on the right track, we just need to be on level with other teams in terms of games played.
Look at the log, we are six points behind Kick4Life and it’s not good.
Players might panic but we just hope that (the Premier League) will do something so that when we go to the December break all teams are level with games played.

Will you be going back to South Africa after your contract at Bantu expires or you would you like to spend a few more years coaching in Lesotho?

You know I would love to stay here for few more years to come; me and Bob have plans to work on the development structures here at Bantu but that is up to the management.
You never know, you can sign a five-year contract and they can terminate it after six months. But I personally would love to stay for few a more years.

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