Fans were treated to two days of heart-stopping football action at Seeiso Leshoboro Stadium in Maseru last weekend.
Bantu were hosting fellow premier league sides Matlama and newcomers Liphakoe as well as Free State Stars of South Africa in a preseason tournament which had fans completely exhilarated.
All the three local teams played their South African premiership counterparts, with Matlama winning 1-0 and Bantu losing 1-2 on Saturday before the Mafeteng giants were hammered 4-0 the following day. Liphakoe were beaten 1-0 on Sunday to complete a fruitful weekend for the visitors.
I believe such matches are what teams need for preseason training if we are to see more competition in our league.
A Matšo Matebele have been inviting these South African premier league sides for such friendlies for years now and their impressive performance over the seasons is ample testimony of the benefits of the tournaments.
Bantu won the Independence Cup in 2012/13 under the leadership of Caswell Moru after playing friendlies against Free State Stars as part of preparations for the new season.
Before the start of the following season, they played the same South African side in preseason and went on to win the coveted ‘Double’—the league title and Independence Cup under coach Motlatsi Shale.
And as part of last season’s preparations, A Matšo Matebele played Free State Stars, Bloemfontein Celtic and SA National First Division side Garankuwa United, and although they failed to defend their league title, Bantu were runners-up to eventual winners Lioli, and clinched the Top8 tournament.
What I am saying here is it pays to play such strong opposition in preseason, especially those from outside the country.
Lioli have also been doing it, and so have Likhopo, and of late Matlama, and how I wish all our teams could emulate this trend and bring us entertainment during the offseason, while fine-tuning for the looming campaign.
This past week, Lioli were in South Africa where they played Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United as part of their preseason preparations.
This undertaking by Tse Nala is also clear testimony that our teams are becoming very serious about the beautiful game.
If you want to be the best, you have to compete against the best and that is what Lioli and Bantu have been consistently doing hence their dominance of domestic football over recent years.
I don’t see the benefits of playing local opponents that you already know, hence my support of inviting outside teams or going out of the country for friendly matches during the off-season.
I know it would be asking too much of most of our teams that struggle to pay their players anything, but facing tough opposition in preseason is always beneficial and one needs to look no further than Lioli and Bantu.
The success of the two teams has also seen them attracting sponsorship while also benefitting from the league’s prize money, so investing in these preseason tournaments is worth it.