Exciting times for the premiership
THE premier league campaign took a different turn at the weekend as Matlama went top of the 14-team table for the first time this season while Lioli failed to win for the third successive week and on-form Bantu moved within five points of the leaders.
Tse Putsoa came from a goal down to beat Likhopo 2-1 on Saturday and leapfrogging the Red Army and Lioli into first place in the process. However, Lioli had a chance to reclaim top spot the following day when they faced LCS at LCS Ground, but the match ended goalless. After the weekend matches, Matlama had 19 points, while Lioli and Likhopo were tied in second place on 17 points. All three giants have played eight matches of the 2015/16 season.
What was probably confirmed after the action-packed weekend was this is going to be a very tight campaign with any of the teams capable of winning the league title.
This is a different scenario from last season where it was just Bantu and Lioli fighting for domestic football’s most lucrative prize.
Likhopo have shown a lot of improvement this term compared to the past four years, but only time will tell if they can challenge for the league title this season.
The other team that will be in the mix as far as the championship is concerned is Bantu.
A Matšo Matebele started the campaign on a slow note but have been a different side since parting ways with Katiso Mojakhomo, who was head-coach when the season started.
Caswell Moru and Mosito Matela, who were appointed caretaker coaches when Mojakhomo was sacked in August, did a marvelous job in rejuvenating the team and now Bantu are just five points behind the log leaders and also won the Independence Cup a fortnight ago after beating Lioli in the final.
There is no doubt this has been a good turnaround for the team and now the challenge is on Motlatsi Shale, who was reappointed coach this week, to maintain the momentum.
Shale is familiar with Bantu players and there will be no need for him to take time to settle in before producing results.
As for defending champions Lioli, they will have to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later, if they are to retain their title.
Despite having one of the most talented squads in the league, Tse Nala were bound to go through a rough patch at one stage this season and this is where we expect to see the capacity of their coaching staff.
As mentioned earlier on, I believe this is going to be one of the most competitive campaigns we have seen in a long time.
It had become boring that every season, the race for the championship was between Bantu and Lioli, so it’s quite refreshing to see the likes of Matlama, Likhopo and LCS back in the picture.
Matlama have had their moments this season, but I did not see that against Likhopo on Saturday and I think they were very lucky to have won the match.
Grinding results is sometimes what you need even when the team is not playing good football and that is what I saw from Tse Putsoa at the weekend.
I still maintain there is need for experienced players in their attack, the same way they have Nkau Lerotholi at the back.
While the focus could be on Matlama, Lioli, Likhopo and Bantu, I believe LCS are the dark horse as far as the race for the league title is concerned.
Mpitsa Marai has been very patient in building his team and I saw some good signs during the Independence Cup tournament, as well as in the weekend goalless draw against Lioli.
My only worry is their star-man of last season, Thabo Seakhoa, has struggled for goals this term and the sooner he rediscovers his form, the better for Masheshena.
Marai must also work on his team’s discipline and maybe copy the likes of Bantu, Lioli and Matlama in putting players into camp every Friday to ensure they are fresh come match-day.
I also wish to congratulate Sundawana coach, Bob Mafoso, who has led the ambitious ButhaButhe team to four successive wins since replacing Freeze Ntene in August.
This is the same Mafoso who led Likila United to a historic sixth place finish last season and I think he is proving to be a coach for the future.
Sundawana are now in fourth place on the premiership table and like what I have already said, only time will tell if they are good enough to give the big guns a run for their money.