Ex­cit­ing times for the premier­ship

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

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.

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