|"Next time we will know what to do."|
On Wednesday, Bantu crashed out of the CAF Champions League at the first hurdle after a heart-breaking away goals loss to Swaziland’s Mbabane Swallows. A Matšo Matebele arrived back in Lesotho on Thursday evening. But there is no time to rest. Bantu now have to dust themselves off and refocus on pressing tasks at home.
A Matšo Matebele currently lead the Econet Premier League by seven points with nine games left as they look to defend their title, return to the Champions League and try their luck in Africa again in 2019.
Before that the Mafeteng giants begin their 2018 LNIG Top 8 campaign with a quarterfinal first leg tie against Sky Battalion on Sunday afternoon at the LCS Stadium. Shortly after Bantu’s return home, head coach James Madidilane reflected on the eventful tie against Mbabane Swallows, the lessons learned and tests ahead for the champions.
Q: What are your thoughts on the second leg against Mbabane Swallows?
Madidilane: I am proud about how we did. In the first leg we were a bit shaky but in the second leg I was pleased with the manner in which we played. It showed character and it proved that we can do wonders as long as the players are not scared. I am happy with the technical team and the players as well.
|Bantu coach James Madidilane (right)...|
How disappointed are you to lose the tie on away goals?
It’s an experience one cannot buy. We made critical errors in the first leg because players were not themselves. Next time (we are in the competition) I know what to do and the players have learned. We could have scored more goals in the second leg but what we can take into account is that this match was an eye opener and we learned a lot from the two games.
Do you have any regrets over the first leg?
Football is a game and for you to win you have to know that there will be mistakes. Mistakes happen and you have to learn from them. It was not good that we lost. As a coach – and as it was my first time in CAF (competition) – what I realised is that when you go into such games you have to believe in yourself. We conceded in the first leg because we were scared. Some of the players were scared because we were playing against a team which had played and beaten a South African team (Platinum Stars) last year (in the CAF Confederation Cup).
What lessons did you take as a coach and as a team from the tie?
I can play against (Jose) Mourinho but the important thing as a coach is to believe in your team and yourself as well. I realised that, with players that we have, we can do wonders.
Do you believe you can bounce back and go on to win the Econet Premier League or do you fear that the disappointment from losing to Mbabane Swallows will negatively affect the players?
There is no disappointment in the team at all. The challenge is that there was too much on stake from us, not considering that it was our first time in the Champions League as a group and, basically for me, it was my first time in CAF. But the loss will not hinder us in the league. We still have so many games to tackle. We have to defend the (league) title as well. We are leading and that doesn’t say we can relax. Lioli and Matlama are on a high and with Lioli having a new coach (Morena Ramorebodi) I think there is still going to be a serious challenge from them. We have to work hard. I wouldn’t say we were demoralised but instead the CAF games boosted us.