Big blow for Bantu

Big blow for Bantu

…As Phungulwa is ruled out for three months…

MASERU – Bantu’s Econet Premier League title plans have been dealt an early blow with news that influential playmaker Lindokuhle Phungulwa will be sidelined for three months with a knee injury.
Phungulwa suffered a cracked knee in Bantu’s Econet Soccer Spectacular semi-final win over Linare last Saturday at Setsoto Stadium and missed his side’s penalty shootout defeat to Lioli in the final the following day.

‘A Matšo Matebele’ spokesperson Bokang Phasumane confirmed Phungulwa’s misfortune to thepost yesterday saying the midfielder has been ruled out of action for at least 12 weeks.
Phasumane said Bantu are hoping the South African-born playmaker will return before the league’s year-end Christmas break in December.
The news is a setback for Bantu who kick off their 2019/20 Econet Premier League campaign next Saturday against Sefotha-fotha and then face a humdinger against champions Matlama the following weekend.

The 12-week timeline for Phungulwa’s injury means he might only feature in two games – against Kick4Life on December 15 and Swallows on December 22 – before the league’s first round ends.
“This is a big loss for us because we are talking about a vice-captain of the club,” a disappointed Phasumane told thepost.

“When (club captain) Thapelo Mokhehle is not on the pitch (Phungulwa) is the one wearing the captain’s armband and now we don’t have him. Besides this, he is an important player on and off the field.
“He is always there talking and motivating his teammates, so it is a big loss. He has a crack on his knee and he will be out for 12 weeks, that means he will miss the first three months (of the season),” Phasumane said.
The 26-year-old Phungulwa has blossomed into one of Bantu’s most important players since joining the club in 2016.

Just four months ago he won the club’s player of the season award after a sterling 2018/19 campaign and he was a key member of Bantu’s league title glories in 2017 and 2018 under James Madidilane.
Phungulwa appeared poised to have another standout season when he played an instrumental role as Bantu won the Alliance Winter Challenge preseason showpiece two weeks ago.

Phasumane, however, said ‘A Matšo Matebele’ cannot afford to cry over spilt milk and he backed Bantu’s squad to flourish despite the setback.
With the Mafeteng giants once again expected to compete for the Econet Premier League title, Phasumane insisted this is an opportunity for other players to step in and fill Phungulwa’s boots.
He pointed to new high-profile signing Tšoanelo Koetle as a candidate to play Phungulwa’s position.

Koetle was signed from rivals Lioli last month and the Lesotho international is likely to have a big role to play from the onset.
“We have players that can step up and fill (Phungulwa’s) boots,” Phasumane said.
“After he got injured (against Linare) we brought on Teboho Tšiu (to replace Phungulwa) and he played really well. We also have other players, I think Tšoanelo Koetle will be playing there, but we have lots of players,” he added.
Bantu’s depth will be tested in a start to the season that will also include the Independence Cup in early October.

The Econet Premier League title race is also set to be hotter than ever with Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service expected to join Bantu in trying to wrestle the crown away from Matlama.
Phasumane expressed confidence in Bantu’s chances and insisted the Mafeteng giants will challenge for the league title under new coach Bob Mafoso who took over last month to replace the departed Madidilane.

Bantu were encouraged by their performance in the Econet Soccer Spectacular, Phasumane added, where ‘A Matšo Matebele’ reached the final despite missing several stars including Hlompho Kalake and Mokone Marabe who are on international duty with Lesotho.
“We have about six players with the national team, they are not here now and even on Sunday (against Lioli) we played without them and we played well,” Phasumane said.

“We bought good players and we brought in Bob Mafoso who is a good manager. Even though we lost (Phungulwa) we have a very good team to challenge for the title.”

Tlalane Phahla

 

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