Lebata ready to roll after injury ordeal
It has been almost two seasons since Tsebang Lebata played a competitive league match, but the striker is now back to full fitness and awaiting the chance to rock and roll for Bantu once again.
The 24-year-old last played for Bantu in the 2013/14 season, helping the Mafeteng-based A Matšo Matebele to their first-ever league title and also winning the premiership’s top scorer award after finding the back of the net 15 times in that campaign.
Owen, as the striker is affectionately known in football circles, played for premier league sides FC Likhopo, Lesotho Correctional Service and his home-team Liphakoe before moving to Bantu.
A member of the national team before his injury, Lebata was also the top goal-scorer for Leslie Notši’s national under-20 side, Makoanyane XI team, which qualified for the 2011 African Youth Championship tournament.
“I was on the verge of kissing my football career goodbye, but here I am, after a very long time on the sidelines through injury. I had to undergo a very complicated operation in South Africa, and I am feeling as good as new now,” Lebata said.
“I am very grateful to Bantu and the team’s supporters who made the operation possible. Their support also helped me remain hopeful and now it is time for me to repay them that faith and say thank you for everything. Hopefully, I can be able to deliver once I get the chance to get onto the pitch once again because like I said, I had given up hope over playing this game that I love so much.”
After the injury against Joy FC in the last match of the season, which really tested his career, Lebata has some advice for his colleagues.
The gifted striker says without being humble and disciplined, it would have been difficult for him to regain full fitness once again. He urges his fellow sportsmen to remain grounded and believes without humility, Bantu might not have gone out of their way to pay the M80 000 for his operation.
“I believe the club went this far because I was an asset to them, but above all, because I have been very committed, disciplined and a good servant to the club,” said Lebata.
“It is really important for players to remain humble because only then can teams go the extra mile to make sure that we continue to play even when one has to deal with a potentially career-ending injury.
“To be honest with you, this has been a very tough journey because football has been my life. However, the love and support I received from the Bantu family kept me going and I want to prove that the management and everybody else at the club, were right to stand by me in my greatest hour of need.”
The striker who went under the knife at the Universitas Private Hospital in Bloemfontein last year says he is itching to get back to action again and cannot wait to get back into the ring for the battle that had become part of his life until that debilitating injury.
“I am just waiting for that call from the coaches to go onto the pitch and help the team. I feel good and ready to serve Bantu one more.
“I know it is going to be a nervous moment the first time I step onto the pitch for a competititve game again, because I have been out for a long time. But like I said, I’m looking forward to it.
“The team has not been doing well and I want to get back into action to help get things right again.”
On his part, Bantu secretary general, Jafta Thamae said the club was delighted to have the talented forward back in action after his injury ordeal.
“We are very happy to see him back in action again,” Thamae said.
“”It was important to help him overcome the injury as he is not only an asset to the team, but the country as well.
“The management went all out to see that he is back in action and we also grateful to our supporters as they played a role by contributing towards the money that was needed for the player to go under the knife.”
Meanwhile, Bantu face Likila United at home today and it should be an emotional comeback should Lebata be given a run by the coach in the match.