‘We want to win trophies’

‘We want to win trophies’

MASERU – Bob Mafoso couldn’t have imagined a better start to life as the man calling the shots in Mafeteng.  After three games in the new Econet Premier League season, Bantu have a perfect three-win record and two weekends ago celebrated an impressive and always-welcome 2-0 victory over rivals Lioli.

Even Mafoso himself couldn’t have scripted things better since he was appointed in August to replace the most successful coach in the club’s history – James Madidilane.

Helpfully, Mafoso is no stranger to Bantu having worked as Madidilane’s assistant coach during two success-laden years between 2016 and 2018 before he decided to take the Kick4Life head coaching job last May.

After leading Kick4Life to fifth place in the Econet Premiership last season, Mafoso was head-hunted by ‘A Matšo Matebele’ to take over the reins from Madidilane who left Bantu with two league titles and an Independence Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Understandably, at a club of Bantu’s stature and expectations, all eyes are now on Mafoso. ‘A Matšo Matebele’ want to wrestle the league title back from Matlama after finishing second last season.

Is Mafoso the man to lead the Mafeteng giants to glory? Will he keep his star-studded squad happy? Can he satisfy Bantu’s ever-demanding fans?
thepost caught up with Mafoso on Monday as he prepared for Bantu’s next assignment, a league fixture against Lifofane next Wednesday against . . . , and he was unfazed.

His mission at Bantu, Mafoso says, is simple – to win trophies.
thepost: What has been the reason behind your fast start to the season?
Mafoso: I think the first thing is that this is a team that was already prepared. They are a group of players that have played together for some time; there are not a lot of things that we changed.

The transition wasn’t that bad, it could have still been better; there are players that I don’t know and I am seeing for the first time here. They weren’t at the club when I was here, but I am not complaining.

(When it comes to) the performance we cannot say the machine has been fluid or say things went the way we wanted, but we got the results even when we didn’t play well, although our last game I think we did well.
I think that’s what has made us to not struggle too much so far.

You have been at Bantu before, was it an easy decision to come back?
Kick4Life has had a hand in what I am today. To leave them in the middle of a project was not an easy decision but, honestly, I always knew I want to come here – where I am now.

As much as we might think it was not difficult (to leave Kick4Life), it was also not easy. (Bantu is) where I wanted to be but, at the same time, I was still happy where I was. Everybody wants to come here, it’s one of the biggest jobs in the country but I wasn’t complaining where I was.

Who are your main competitors for silverware this season?
In terms of squad, we have a good team but quite a number of teams have better squads with seasoned campaigners. You cannot rule out Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) at any time, Lioli is a big team, Matlama are league champions, Kick4Life has a squad that is going to push teams, you can’t rule out Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

It is still early days but you cannot discount last season’s top six teams. Teams like Liphakoe are well coached, Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) as well. It’s still a long way (to go); a lot of teams are going to do well.

What has impressed you the most about your start to the season?
The level of professionalism I found here is top. We have players that are always willing to work, we have players that know they have worked very hard to be where they are and you don’t see any sign of a drop-off.

The work ethic from the players is impressive and you cannot leave out the supporters, we have some of the most passionate supporters in the country who are pushing for everything. The management is always on top of their game. They are always trying to make things happen, so you can say the whole system is pushing everyone to work hard.

What do you want to achieve at Bantu during your contract?
I would like to keep the team where it was when I got here, that’s to say, if I have failed, the team cannot drop in terms of standards, in terms of achievements, perhaps of last year.

They have their mandate but as a coach as well I came here because I want to win things. One aim I have is to make the team play the way we want to coach it. Two: can the team be as successful as it was in the past years. Those are my big targets, to make sure that we don’t drop in terms of the standards.

Lindokuhle Phungulwa is still out with an injury. Is the midfielder a big miss?
Yes, it is a big miss, he is the captain. When I got here he was one of the captains. We have three (club) captains. You become a captain because you are one of the influential players, you are a leader.

It’s a miss that we don’t have a leader of that stature in the team but, at the same time, I think we are blessed that the quality in this team has made it impossible to look like we are missing him.

But, in terms of style of play, you can see his absence; but like I said, those that are here have stepped up and took the responsibility. The quality we have is helping otherwise it would be a lie to say you don’t miss your captain or Lindokuhle to be specific.

What are your targets for this season?
When people talk they say Bantu has quality players and I agree with that but the pressure now is to manage that quality.
These players are winners; I came here to win trophies. I always say that the chances of winning trophies are higher at this team, so the target is to win silverware: try to win everything we are playing for.

Tlalane Phahla

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