MASERU — Bantu’s defensive stalwart Tlali Maile has pledged his future to the Mafeteng side after his outstanding season was expected to attract bids from the Vodacom Premier League’s big teams.
Maile was a pillar of strength in central defence and by the end of the season Bantu had conceded only 26 goals, the third lowest tally in the top-flight league after Matlama and Lioli.
The Bantu skipper’s displays have inevitably attracted admiring glances but speaking to the Lesotho Times on Monday, Maile said he wanted to stay put at the Mafeteng side.
“I would like to give Mafeteng more than I have done. They will see that I will die for this team,” he said.
The former Lerotholi Polytechnic defender said his aim was to emulate the likes of Malefetsane Pheko, Sello ‘Muso and Ralekoti Mokhahlane who have won three championships.
Maile won the league title with Likhopo in 2004/05 and again in 2005/06.
“Now (after the season we have had) I can see that anything is possible,” he said.
“The target is there for the players and we want to compete with the top two teams, Matlama and Lioli.”
Bantu, who were promoted to the Premier League last season after a four-year absence, were briefly seen as possible contenders for what would have been the club’s first championship.
But A Matšo Makaota were derailed by a five-week period starting at the end of February as coach Bafokeng Mohapi was often absent because of personal problems.
Bantu lost three consecutive matches to LDF, Linare and Matlama followed by frustrating goalless draws against Likhopo and Mphatlalatsane.
Ultimately Bantu finished sixth after losing a top-four shootout 2-0 to LMPS in Mafeteng on the final day of the season.
Maile said he would prefer to see the coaching situation sorted as soon as possible.
“I would like that by the start of the season we know what is happening so that we can build on where we left off,” he said.
“The points that we lost at the end of day cost us a lot.”
Maile however said Bantu had performed beyond expectations on their return to the top-flight league.
“We didn’t expect to be among those teams. We just wanted to survive so it is a bonus to achieve what we did,” he said.
“I told the guys ‘let’s focus on our performances’. I feel I played well.”
Maile said it was critical for Bantu to retain their key players such as Tefo Maipato and Mapheelle Ngoako.
It’s been a dream season for Maile who has had to overcome serious challenges.
Maile works in far-flung Quthing, meaning he was unable to train regularly with his team-mates.
“I believe that if can be settled I can perform even better,” he said. “I played the Lioli match without having trained with the team for the whole week.”