Bantu’s South African striker, Lazola Jokojokwana, was on song last weekend, scoring a brace as the Mafeteng giants demolished bitter rivals Lioli 3-1 in a hotly contested premier league match played at Setsoto Stadium.
Jokojokwana’s performance on that day was reminiscent of his devastating form when he made his premier league bow for Bantu in the second half of the 2013/14 season.
During that campaign, the hitman was impressive all-round, terrorising opponents with pace, power and skill and an uncanny eye for goal, helping Bantu to their maiden premiership title in the process.
Jokojokwana scored four goals that half term, the same figure he put away last season. Against the then unbeaten Lioli last Sunday, Jokojokwana was a constant bother for the Tse Nala defensive duo of Basia Makepe and Sheetsane Ramoseeka.
The 24-year-old says he is happy to have come this far in what only started as a dream far away in Eastern Cape.
“I was born in Mokhesi in the Eastern Cape, and I grew up playing football in the streets with majita (friends). It only began as something I enjoyed but at the age of 14, I was playing for a development team called Seven Stars. I later joined Young Tigers FC that was playing in the (third-tier) Vodacom League,” Jokojokwana said.
After failing trials at premier league side Bloemfontein Celtic, Jokojokwana decided to cross into Lesotho “just to keep busy”.
“In 2013, I went for trials at Bloemfontein Celtic but unfortunately, I didn’t make it so I spoke with my agent, who advised me to come here just to keep fit and busy in case something came up. But I soon discovered that I was enjoying myself at Bantu, which is why I am still here,” he said.
Yet the forward could not reproduce his maiden season form and found the going tough last season.
“I had a very good season when I joined Bantu, but I think I let that early success got to my head because my second season was a nightmare. I struggled for goals because I had lost that edge I had when I first came here. But the coach, Motlatsi Shale, was always on my side, and he kept pushing and believing in me.
“However, I believe that is all behind me now. I scored twice against Lioli last weekend and I had one of my best performances that day. I have been working hard this season and hope those two goals were the beginning of a great season for me. I can feel that I am back on track, and hopefully, the goals will continue to flow.”
Asked about the standard of football in Lesotho compared to South Africa, Jokojokwana said he was not going to be judgmental.
“I can’t really comment on that, but what I know is we are playing with very good players. That means I am getting the experience I needed when I came here. Lesotho has so much talent when it comes to football, but I just think it needs to be groomed well,” said Jokojokwana.
The striker did not rule out playing in the South African premier league one day, saying only time will tell.
“We all have dreams in life and I am no exception. I always dreamt of playing in the South African Premier League, just like some of my homeboys such as Andile Jali and Bongani Ndulula, to name but a few, so if any chance presents itself, I will gladly go back home to fulfill my dream.”
Yet Jokojokwana also says the thought of changing his citizenship has crossed his mind several times. This, he says, would give him the chance to play for Likuena.
“The thought has crossed my mind several times but it’s not an easy choice to make because it also involves my family back home. I would have to pass it through them first once I have decided what I want to do,” Jokojokwana said.
“You see, my family has been giving me 100 percent support in my career so it is only wise to involve them in every big move I want to make. Again, it took me time to prove to them that coming this side was a better option for me.”
However, Jokojokwana said at the moment, his focus is on Bantu and helping them win as many trophies as possible.
“I helped Bantu win their maiden premiership title when I joined them, so I really felt bad when we lost the title to Lioli last season. The mission now is to reclaim what belongs to us and also helping the team win as many silverware as possible,” said Jokojokwana.
“Bantu are a big side with a huge fan-base and you can just imagine the pressure that comes with such support, especially when we are not delivering. A win is a must for us; we take every match like a Cup final.”
Name: Lazola Jokojokwana
Date of birth: 30 December 1991
Place of birth: Mokhesi, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Previous teams: Young Tigers, Seven Stars (both of SA)
Current team: Bantu
Team supported: Sundowns (South Africa)
Favourite meal: Anything with meat
Favorite music: House
Dream car: Polo Vivo
Role model: Teko Modise (Sundowns captain)
Marital status: In a relationship