The history boys

The history boys

MASERU – The history boys did it against all odds and have qualified for the next round of the 2018/19 CAF Champions League.
Next up on their African adventure Bantu will travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to face continental giants AS Vita Club in the first round.
‘A Matšo Matebele’ can’t wait for the opportunity and the whole football fraternity in the country is celebrating this milestone.

No team from Lesotho had gone beyond the Champions League preliminary stage in over a decade and Bantu become the first team to do so since Lesotho Defence Force beat Botswana’s Mogoditshane Fighters in 2002.

It was not easy for the Lesotho champions. After a 1-1 draw in Botswana last week it seemed ‘A Matšo Matebele’ had a slight advantage with an away goal but they still had to dig deep to get a winner on Tuesday night against Township Rollers.

The visitors took an early lead which scared the home team and the home fans who came in numbers to Setsoto Stadium to support the team.
Rollers had several chances to add more goals to their tally and make things even more difficult for Bantu but they did not take their chances.
Bantu went level into the halftime break thanks to a brilliant free-kick from outside the penalty area by Hlompho Kalake that sent the crowd into a wild frenzy.
‘A Matšo Matebele’ could have wrapped the game up within 90 minutes had Litšepe Marabe had his scoring boots on the day.

Everybody thought it was game over for Township Rollers late in the second half when the Bantu striker was through on goal.
Marabe managed to beat the goalkeeper and only had to place the ball into the empty net but he somehow pulled his shot wide.
With no winner in regulation time, the winner was decided by penalties and the home team scored every penalty while Bantu goalkeeper Ntsane Lichaba was the hero of the day stopping two penalties to send the Mafeteng side through to the next round.

Reacting after his side’s penalty shootout victory, Bantu coach James Madidilane said he was grateful to the players and fans.
He called the win a morale booster for the club.

“I am so privileged to have such a group of players; I am so happy, I don’t know what to say,” Madidilane said.
“I am happy for what we have done for Lesotho and for our team, Bantu Football Club.

“I have to thank the Almighty God; it’s only by him that I have achieved this at a young age. I believe that more good is still coming; I have to be humble and work hard.
“The Almighty God has been with us and I thank him for that,” the former South Africa and Bloemfontein Celtic defender added.
Madidilane continued: “Look, this game was a morale booster. It was the one to give us that punch. AS Vita is going to be 11 against 11, I don’t care whether they have played a (CAF) final or not.
What we are going to do is to prepare in such a way that we are going to get something out of that match.”

Madidilane admitted he was disappointed with once again conceding first at Setsoto as was the case in the first leg but said he never gave up on his players and always knew they would fight back.
He said the match became difficult for his side because they were trying to get a second goal while trying to ensure they do not concede another goal that would have probably eliminated them.
Madidilane made one change to the team that played in Botswana last week bringing Tsebang Lebata for Thabo Lesaoana and he explained why.

“Tsebang wasn’t there when we went to Botswana because of confidence. He was not giving me what I wanted but after what I saw in Botswana I thought I needed somebody who can come and give me the width because in Botswana we never had that.

“That’s why I made that change by bringing back Tsebang hoping that his experience will help more.
“But in the first leg I had to drop him so that I can use Thabo Lesaoana,” he said.

Going forward in the prestigious competition, Madidilane said Bantu will have to continue working on their defending.
“Conceding the way we did is one thing that we have to work on because before this match we played two matches, (a friendly game against) Bloemfontein Celtic and Township Rollers away, and our defending was very good.

“But we still need to work on our defending, especially my fullbacks,” he said.
“Most of the time they are giving the opposing wingers space; if we can manage that we will stop conceding.”

Luciah Phahla

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