THE Chief Executive Officer of Econet Telecomm Lesotho, Dennis Plaatjies, has challenged the reigning league champions, Matlama, to take local football further on the continental front when they perform in the CAF Champion’s League next season.
Plaatjies said this during the welcome trophy ceremony hosted by the Matlama sponsors, Alliance Insurance Company, on Friday in Maseru. The event was graced by sports minister Mahali Phamotse and Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi.
Plaatjies said Matlama should take from where Bantu left off in the just ended season where they became the first team to go past the preliminary stage of the CAF Champions’ League. This was after the side beat Botswana’s Township of Botswana 4-2 on penalties. The sides had drawn 2-2 after two legs last November.
A Matšo Matebele were however, knocked out by the As Vita of Democratic Republic of Congo in the next phase and got relegated to the CAF confederations Cup where they were eventually knocked out by Enugu Rangers of Nigeria.
Plaatjies said Bantu has set the bar high and they are expecting Matlama to surpass that stage and continue raising Lesotho football.
“Bantu did their part last season and they have set the bar high, what is now left is for Matlama to take us a step further from where Bantu left off,” Plaatjies said.
The Econet boss said as the league sponsors, they still have many targets they want to achieve and at the moment, they are still in talks with the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA).
“We have bigger dreams for Lesotho football and as sponsors, we still aspire to achieve some bigger things but at the moment, we are still in talks with both PLMC and LeFA on how to get where we want to go,” he said.
For his part, Matlama president Paballo Makakole admitted that they are faced with an uphill task but promised that they will work hard.
“We are now through with the first phase which is winning the league. Now we are going to start another mammoth task and we will need to double our efforts.
Makakole thanked Alliance Insurance Company as their main sponsorship saying they could not have made it without the support.
“We are grateful to Alliance because we couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t of their support. This relationship dates way back in 2006 and we are not where we want as yet but we are still grateful for what we are getting from Alliance.”
He further urged his players to keep on working hard and always put Matlama first.
“To the players, we have to go out there and fight and we should always put Matlama first.”
On her part, Phamotse congratulated Matlama and promised that the ministry will support them all the way.
“I am happy for Matlama for winning the league and I encourage them to keep working hard. I promise that the ministry will continue supporting you in this new journey that you are taking to represent the country on continental level.
“Our budget was cut down this year but I am grateful that we still have companies such as Econet and Alliance showing up and still investing in sports. I call on other companies to come forward and invest in sports because we have to drive in a direction where one day we can compete at the highest stage of sports,” Phamotse said.