Bantu close in to defend league title
MASERU – Bantu eased past Kick4Life 2-0 at Setsoto Stadium on Wednesday to keep their title hopes alive after dropping points in a 1-1 draw against Linare last Sunday.
Hlompho Stiga Kalake opened the scoring for Bantu as early as two minutes from the first whistle with a well-taken shot just outside the 18th area following a cross from Neo Mokhachane from the right flank.
Bantu’s second goal also came in the opening minutes of the second half by half-time substitute Lazola TJokotjokwana in the 53rd minute.
However, Bantu are still trailing LCS with two points and Matlama with five on top of the 14-team Econet Premier League (EPL) log table respectively.
Matlama, with 44 points from 19 matches (on top of the table) are the favourites to win the league title. They are remaining with four matches against Bantu with five on third position (with 39 points) and LCS with three on second-place (with 41 points).
Back to Bantu-Kick4Life game, the defending champions (Bantu) took the game to their opponents from the first whistle and the impressive thing about them was that their effort was rewarded instantly when Kalake broke the ice in the opening minutes of the game.
They were close to increasing their tally in the 24th minute when Litšepe Marabe’s well-taken shot was fisted over the crossbar by Kick4Life goalkeeper, Sele Thetsane.
Bantu were playing a pacey and attacking football, and that saw them fairly dominating the play as Kick4Life struggled to cope with the pace.
James Madididlane’s charges were also good in the midfield where Lundokuhle Phungulwa and teammates were too strong for their Kick4Life opponents.
Even Bantu’s veteran players like Ralekoti Mokhahlane and Thabo Masuoalle could not close their opponents down every time when they joined in an attempt to overpower them.
However, Kick4Life were unlucky not to find the back of the net in the 44th minute when Tšeliso Botsane’s targeted shot was cleared by Tsietsi Khooa on the goal-line.
Bantu’s goalkeeper Thabiso Feso Lichaba was already beaten as at the time he was out of his goals in an attempt to close down Kick4Life forwards from penetrating Bantu’s defense near the latter’s 18th area.
Four minutes into the second half (49th) Botsane again got a good pass from Lepekola Seetane but the Kick4Life marksman’s shot went over the crossbar.
Bantu also had their chance in the 57th minute when Kalake connected to Neo Mokhachane’s heavy shot in the box, which, however, went wide.
This was the second loss in a row for Kick4Life after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Matlama last Saturday.
“The Sunday and today’s games were both not easy encounters for us,” said Kick4Life head coach Bob Mafoso in a post-match interview on Wednesday.
“This (the Bantu match) was another quality which was too strong for us. The way they played proved that they are the defending champions.”
Mafoso said Bantu showed their determination to win very early in the game.
“I think in the 10th and 20th minutes, they showed that they wanted it more than us.”
He further showed: “However, when we managed to absorb the pressure, but unfortunately they had already scored and so it was quite difficult for us to match them pound for pound.”
Mafoso also admitted that his charges were not posing threat to their opponents.
“To be honest, we were not posing any threat to them and they easily took the ball away from us every time when it mattered most.”
His Bantu counterpart, Madidilane, for his part said: “I think we defended very well as a team but when it came to attacking, there were times when I think we could have killed (done better) the game more especially in the first half. But now we were too slow.”
He further said: “But I am very happy with the result because what we needed were the three points, though I think we need to improve the performance in the next games if we really want to defend our title.”