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Lebata should consider retirement before it’s too late


Moorosi Tsiane

Devastating news hit the Bantu camp a fortnight ago when star-forward Tsebang Lebata was again ruled out of action for at-least three months, due to a recurring knee injury.

Owen, as Lebata is affectionately known in football circles, spent the entire 2014/15 watching the game from the stands after injuring his knee towards the end of the 2013/14 season.

The Quthing-born striker, who wears the famous number-15 jersey in the black-and-gold colours of Bantu, went under the knife in June last year and had to wait at least six months before he could return to action.

He was back on the pitch two months ago but unfortunately, succumbed to a reckless tackle in training, with the injury now set to keep him out of action for the rest of the season.

The 26-year-old former Liphakoe, LCS and Likhopo striker was a vital member of the Bantu side that won the Vodacom Premier League title in 2013/14, with his 15 goals earning him the top goal-scorer or Golden Boot award.

This season, Bantu have been struggling for results, and there is no doubt they are missing Lebata’s ruthlessness in front of goal, hence their failure to challenge for honours.

Yet as much as Bantu and Lesotho football in general, still need Owen’s services, I would personally advise him to retire as a player now before it’s too late.

Lebata has been suffering from this injury for a long time now and instead of getting better, the player’s injury woes seem to be getting worse.

I understand Lebata is very passionate about football, and was a member of Leslie Notši’s national under-20 side that qualified for the 2011 African Youth Championship, which also confirms he is no ordinary player.

However, these injuries are not doing him any good and I know quitting the sport would not be easy for him. But looking at the bigger picture and what might happen should he continue getting injured and going for surgery, I would suggest he goes for coaching because that way, we would not lose such a brilliant football brain for good.

Here we are talking about a man who graduated from the National University of Lesotho with a BSc Agriculture Crop Science degree in 2015 and tied the knot in January this year.

This clearly indicates someone with a bright future and I believe hanging up his boots now will still leave him with a life.

At 26 years of age and in perfect health, the left-footed striker would be at the peak of his career but unfortunately, injuries have prevented him from realising his full potential. And the sad truth about injuries is one rarely returns to his former glory even after a full recovery and former Matlama striker Lawrence Molengoane, who is now with LCS, is a typical example.

Molengoane was once among the best strikers in the land and was part of the national under-20 side that qualified for the 2005 African Youth Championship held in Benin.

The Nazareth-born striker then suffered a nasty knee injury and was never the same deadly hitman again. Fortunately for him, he had been employed by the Lesotho Correctional Services and so he will always have an income.

Players will always get injured and prematurely leave the sport so Owen would not be the first should he decide to call it a day, which I strongly recommend lest he be crocked so badly he would find it difficult to walk again.

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