FRESH from winning the Covid-19 disrupted 2019/20 Econet Premier League, Bantu are already preparing for next season by tying down their core players to new contracts.
Bantu president technical Panyane Phiri confirmed to Sunday Express that Lindokuhle Phungulwa, Lazola Tjokotjokwana, Hlompho Kalake and Bokang Sello have all extended their contracts by two seasons while Thabo Lesaoana and Tau Masiu have extended theirs by three seasons.
Phiri said they were still locked in negotiations with Lehlohonolo Fothoane and coach, Bob Mafoso.
“We have renewed the contracts of several players. Most of our players whose contracts had just ended have been renewed by either two or three years as we start preparing for the 2020/21 season,” Phiri said.
“We are still negotiating with our coach because his contract has an option of renewing at the end of the season while we are still negotiating with Lehlohonolo Fothoane.”
Phiri said they are also recruiting young players who will be ready for the senior team in two seasons.
“We are trying to cut costs, so we are looking for young players under the age of 20. These will be able to take over in the next two seasons. They will play at least 30 percent of our matches while understudying the senior players. We are also searching for a centre and right back.”
He said they are now focussing on ensuring that Bantu reaches the group stages of the CAF Champions’ League.
In their last appearance in the CAF champions League, Bantu reached the second phase after eliminating Botswana’s Township Rollers. They were eventually knocked out by AS Vita of Democratic Republic of Congo.
They were then relegated to the Confederations Cup where they were eliminated by Enugu Rangers of Nigeria.
“We are trying to ensure that we do not lose the core of the team because our target is to reach the group stages. It is achievable. If we feature in the competition consistently, its easy to go far because we would have gained experience.
“Our only challenge for now is that our players have been inactive for a long time and there is still a possibility that they will be inactive for several months, so we are going to struggle with fitness.”
Phiri said they have also identified to new players in South Africa but the ongoing lockdown has made it impossible to tie them down.
“We had already identified two players that we want to sign in South Africa to strengthen our squad but the lockdown has made it difficult to continue with the transactions. We also do not know when then 2020/21 season is going to start,” Phiri said.