|Final instructions... Bantu coach James Madidilane (centre)|
Bantu coach James Madidilane says A Matšo Matebele are aiming to make history by becoming the first Lesotho team to make it past the preliminary stage of CAF Champions League in almost two decades when they face Swaziland’s Mbabane Swallows on Sunday.
In December, the Lesotho champs were drawn to face Swaziland champions Mbabane Swallows in the preliminary round of the competition.
The first leg will be played at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday with the return leg on February 21 in the Swazi capital, Mbabane.
Sunday’s tie will be A Matšo Matebele’s second appearance in the Champions League in club history. Their first was in 2015 when the Mafeteng giants were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Gabon’s AS Mangasport at the same stage.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s Champions League opener, Madidilane called Mbabane Swallows a “fair draw”.
“It is a fair draw for us instead of getting the likes of Al Ahly and TP Mazembe so I think we can do better. This is a chance for us to change things (and qualify for the next round) and I believe we can do that”. Madidilane said.
The last time a Lesotho team won a Champions League tie was in 2002 when LDF beat Botswana’s Mogoditshane Fighters 2-1 on aggregate to progress to the first round.
Madidilane said Bantu’s objective is to match LDF’s exploits, at least.
“Our target is to go beyond the first stage and we know it is not going to be easy as it going to take a lot of commitment from everyone involved,” he said.
He continued: “(Mbabane Swallows’) standard of football is not that different from ours but we will not undermine them because they are obviously a good team. The fact that they won their league means they worked hard and so we have to respect them.”
The Mafeteng giants have been looking forward to their outing into Africa since they were crowned league champions last May. Their preparations have included several friendly games against South African clubs.
According to Madidilane, Sunday’s first leg is crucial for Bantu’s prospects in the tie.
“We are starting at home and we just need to avoid conceding to save ourselves the pressure in the return fixture,” he said.
If A Matšo Matebele successfully navigate their way past Mbabane Swallows, they will face Zambia’s Zanaco or Gambia Armed Forces in the first round.
Lesotho in the CAF Champions League since 2000:
2017: CAPS United (Zimbabwe) 2-1 Lioli
2016: Vital’O (Burundi) 2-2 Lioli (Vital’O won on away goals)
2015: AS Mangasport (Gabon) 1-0 Bantu
2014: Primeiro de Agosto (Angola) 3-2 Lioli
2013: Dynamos (Zimbabwe) 3-1 LCS
2012: URA (Uganda) 3-0 LCS
2011: SuperSport United (South Africa) 3-2 Matlama
2010: Did not take part
2009: Did not take part
2008: Platinum Stars (South Africa) 4-1 LCS
2007: Zanaco (Zambia) 1-0 Likhopo
2006: Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 4-0 Likhopo
2005: CAPS United (Zimbabwe) 8-4 LDF
2004: Orlando Pirates (South Africa) 7-0 Matlama
2003: Did not take part
2002: (Preliminary round) Mogoditshane Fighters (Botswana) 1-2 LDF, (First round) TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 3-1 LDF
2001: Did not take part
2000: (Preliminary round) AS Fortior (Madagascar) 0-0 LDF (LDF won penalties), (First round) Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 6-2 LDF
2018 African Champions League draw:
St George (Ethiopia) v Al Salam (South Sudan)
CNaPS (Madagascar) v Kampala Capital City Authority (Uganda)
Zanaco (Zambia) v Gambia Armed Forces (Gambia)
Bantu (Lesotho) v Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)
Stade Malien (Mali) v Williamsville AC (Ivory Coast)
Al Tahadi (Libya) v Aduana Stars (Ghana)
Entente Setif (Algeria) v Olympic Real Bangui (Central African Republic)
Real Bamako (Mali) v MFM FC (Nigeria)
AS Otoho (Congo) v Mouloudia Alger (Algeria)
AS Fan (Niger) v Horoya (Guinea)
Generation Foot (Senegal) v Misr Makassa (Egypt)
Young Africans (Tanzania) v St Louis (Seychelles)
Township Rollers (Botswana) v Al Merreikh (Sudan)
Gor Mahia (Kenya) v Leones Vegetarianos (Equatorial Guinea)
ASAC Concorde (Mauritania) v Esperance (Tunisia)
Plateau United (Nigeria) v Eding Sport (Cameroon)
AC Leopards (Congo) v AS Port Lome (Togo)
LISCR FC (Liberia) v Al Hilal (Sudan)
JKU SC (Zanzibar) v Zesco United (Zambia)
Benin representative v Asec Abidjan (Ivory Coast)
Ngaya Club (Comoros Islands) v UD Songo (Mozambique)
DH El Jadidi (Morocco) v Benfica (Guinea Bissau)
AS Vita Club (DR Congo) v Be Forward Wanderers (Malawi)
Primeiro Agosto (Angola) v FC Platinum (Zimbabwe)
Bidvest Wits (South Africa) v Pamplemousse SC (Mauritius)
Rayon Sports (Rwanda) v Lydia Ludic Burundi Academic (Burundi)
St George or Al Salam v CNaPS or Kampala Capital City Authority
Zanaco or Gambia Armed Forces v Bantu or Mbabane Swallows
Wydad Casablanca (Morocco, holders) v Stade Malien or Williamsville AC
Al Tahadi or Aduana Stars v Entente Setif or Olympic Real Bangui
Al Ahly (Egypt) v CF Mounana or RC Kadiogo
Real Bamako or MFM FC v AS Otoho or Mouloudia Alger
AS Fan or Horoya v Generation Foot or Misr Makassa
Young Africans or St Louis v Township Rollers or Al Merreikh
Gor Mahia or Leones Vegetarianos v ASAC Concorde or Esperance
Etoile Sahel (Tunisia) v Plateau United or Eding Sport
AC Leopards or AS Port Lome v LISCR FC or Al Hilal
JKU SC or Zesco United v Benin representative or Asec Abidjan
TP Mazembe (DR Congo) v Ngaya Club or UD Songo
DH El Jadidi or Benfica v AS Vita Club or Be Forward Wanderers
Primeiro Agosto or FC Platinum v Bidvest Wits or Pamplemousse SC
Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) v Rayon Sports or Lydia Ludic Burundi Academic