Last weekend was one of the darkest periods in domestic football following Bantu’s lackluster performance against Association Sportive Mangasport of Gabon at Setsoto Stadium, which led to their ouster from the 2015 African Champions League.
The Mafeteng outfit failed to score in Sunday’s decisive return match, and after losing the first-leg tie 1-0 away in Gabon, the team crashed out of the continental competition at the preliminary stage, breaking the hearts of many who had hoped for a much better showing from the Vodacom Premier League champions.
I was one of those many Basotho who felt betrayed by Bantu because the team did not show enough hunger to succeed against Mangasport.
And considering the quality in this team, it was so disappointing to see the players running around the pitch like headless chickens against an equally mediocre Mangasport side.
Anyway, that is all in the past now and our focus must shift back to the league where Bantu face a very stubborn Nyenye Rovers in Mafeteng this afternoon.
Bantu are trailing log-leaders Lioli by five points after 17 matches with nine more to go before the season comes to a close.
And if history is anything to go by, last weekend’s loss might be the beginning of Bantu’s troubles which could see them failing to defend their league title.
Last season, Lioli started losing matches after their exit from the Champions League at the hands of Clube Desportivo Primeiro de Agosto of Angola. The TY outfit lost 2-0 away in Luanda and won 2-1 at Setsoto, but crashed out of the continental showcase on a 3-2 aggregate score.
At that time, Bantu were leading the 14-team table and went on to win the league championship for the first time in their history.
This year, Lioli are at the summit of the table and the big question is: will history repeat itself once again?
I think Bantu lost it on Sunday when their talisman, Litšepe Marabe, was red-carded just before halftime due to his violent reaction to a tackle. Yet this was the man the team expected to provide the much-needed goals so once he was sent-off, the writing was on the wall and a knockout from the tournament was now inevitable.
Marabe has been very instrumental in Bantu’s matches of late, and has been scoring for fun, hence fans’ expectations that he was going to rescue the team once again on Sunday.
But as their president, Leuta Leuta, has said, life goes on and the team now needs to focus on retaining the league title. Leuta actually believes the players will come back stronger after Sunday’s loss and will be inspired to prove that they are a very good side and a cut above the rest of the premiership teams.
However, it will be interesting to see Bantu chasing Lioli for the league title, and I believe this is going to be one of the most fierce races in the history of Lesotho football.
We need that kind of competition in our league and the fact that LDF are also in the mix, makes the race even more exciting.