By Khosi Pheko
Vodacom Premier League (VPL) debutants, Limkokwing University Football club (LUFC) head coach, Ntlaloe Ntlaloe has heaped his side’s affirmations that they are primed to compete in the current 2023/2024 top flight season. The coach said this following their 2:1 loss against defending champions Bantu Fc in this season’s opening match in Mohale’s Hoek , last Saturday.
LUFC took on Bantu in what was anticipated to be a walk in the park, on paper for the defending champions but the newcomers intended to make things difficult for them and to stun them in their own backyard. Two successive goals from Lehlohonolo Fothoane in the 40th minute and a costly error by goalkeeper Ts’eliso Ranko which resulted in an own goal in the 44th minute were enough to hand the Mafeteng based club their first victory of the season.
LUFC were nonetheless guns blazing in the second half and their efforts were rewarded with a 62nd minute goal from substitute Khotso Thejane who gave hope to the visitors. LUFC kept threatening the home side and the match seemed likely to be destined for a draw or end 3:2 in favour of the visitors only for Bantu to escape with a narrow victory of 2:1.
Speaking to Informative Newspaper on Monday, Ntlaloe Ntlaloe had nothing but praises for his charges with how they played against the defending champions. He said they rightfully deserved to walk from the game with at least a point or a win but some decisions from the referees cost them and they had to settle for a defeat.
“We were playing well in the first half for almost 35 minutes, we frustrated them until the last 10 minutes when midfielder Lehlohonolo Fothoane displayed an individual brilliance to open the scoring. Moments later, our level of concentration had lapsed we started to make silly mistakes and that hurt us as the linesman awarded an own goal which was still in play. We were the dominant side in the second half, we even scored a goal but the very same linesman denied it, it could have ended level on 2:2 or we could have won it“, he said.
Despite the mistakes Ntlaoe is not bothered but convinced beyond reasonable doubt that they will leave a positive mark in their debut season and they will play as underdogs to exceed expectations as a new team in the top flight.
“Stage fright was our main enemy on this one and the plan we had was disrupted. Bantu really did not pose much threat to us, we just lost concentration and we conceded two goals in four minutes. Psychologically my players are very motivated and by assessing our chances, I can safely say we are ready to compete not only to avoid relegation, but we are here to compete so that we can be one of the well performing teams”, Ntlaloe said.
This loss puts LUFC 11 on the log standings and their next assignment will be against eighth place Machokha this coming Saturday at Bambatha Ts’ita Sports Arena, in Maseru at 15:00 pm.