Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

All systems go for M500 000 football prize

 

Moorosi Tsiane

THE 2017/2018 premier league season roared into life yesterday with defending champions Bantu playing new comers Sefotha-fotha while Matlama faced Liphakoe.

The league is likely to be an even more competitive affair- what with a new sponsor, Econet Telecom Lesotho who have more than doubled the winners’ purse to M500 000.

Bantu received M200 000for winning last’s championship.

In this article, the Sunday Express takes a close look at each of the premier league clubs, assessing their strengths, weaknesses and preparedness for the grueling campaign that lies ahead.

Bantu: It is never an easy task defending the championship and the club’s youthful coaches James Madidilane and Bob Mafoso (assistant coach) appear to have done their homework by bolstering their squad with a few quality signings to cover the areas where they looked vulnerable last season.

Long-serving skipper, Tlali Maile, retired at the end of last season and the club wasted no time in replacing him at centre back with former Sandawana captain, Johannes Molapo.

The towering defender can also play at right back.

Bantu who scored 50 times last season have also acquired former Sky Battalion forward Tsietsi Motšeare who found the net on 14 occasions in his debut season.

He will certainly ease the pressure on talisman Lazola Tjokotjokwana.

Thabo Matšoele also came in from Sky Battalion and he will compete for a starting berth on the left wing with fan favorite, Maloisane Ramasimong.

The Mafeteng outfit also increased competition in the middle of the park by signing Pheko ‘Molaoa who also plays an anchor.

The former Boluma-Tau FC anchorman still needs to prove himself in the top league and he is set to compete with the club’s Most Disciplined Player for last season, Lindokhuhle Phungwuloa.

The fact that Bantu parted ways with midfielders, Thabiso Mohapi and Teboho Lillane might make things easier for the youngster.

Bantu also brought in former Matlama goalkeeper, Thabiso Lichaba, who saw little action as backup for Monaheng Ramalefane. He remains a safe pair of hands none-the-less and the change might do the former national under 20 shot stopper a lot of good after five seasons at Matlama.

The other big signing was that of Likuena and Swallows attacking midfielder, Lehlohonolo Fothoane.

Players that left Bantu are Thabiso Mohapi (Lioli), Teboho Lillane (Matlama), Liteboho Nkune (Majantja) and Pheello Sephooana (Ketane FC).

Prediction: Bantu remain favourites to retain their crown.

Lioli: Tse Nala won the Top 8 and Top 4 crowns last season despite the criticism directed at coach, Halemakale Mahlaha.

Lioli are itching to regain the crown they had made their own before Bantu snatched it from them last season and they need a good squad to achieve that.

The Teyateyaneng outfit announced the shock capture of the former Bantu utility player, Thabiso Mohapi.

This is a good singing for Lioli as Mohapi will push anchor, Tšoanelo Koetle, to work even harder to maintain his first eleven spot.

Koetle didn’t have a good season in which he played almost every match.

The arrival of Mohapi will increase the competition and that may not be good news for Retšelisitsoe Moepi who also signed from A Division side, Limkokwing University FC.

The youngster is a good acquisition for Lioli but he will have to be patient as he is likely to be behind Koetle and Mohapi in the pecking order.

Jeremiah Kamela is also back in action and he will provide another option in midfield.

Goal scoring was also a big challenge and Lioli signed Tankiso Tabi to fix that problem.

The left footed attacker netted in almost every match for Mahlaseli helping them to qualify for A division play offs last season but unfortunately they failed to gain promotion. He will have to prove himself against the top guns.

The return of Bafokeng Mosala could also make Lioli’s strike force the best in the league.

Lioli also signed a Ghanaian shot stopper Umpush Richard and Maseko Sebaka from Free State, South Africa. Their goalkeeping department has not been stable with Liteboho Mokhehle wanting out while Mohau Kuenane is injury prone, leaving only Mpho Mofokeng.

Players that have left Tšepo Seturumane (LMPS), Thaane Mokhehle (Liphakoe).

Prediction: Lioli did not sign many players but theirs is probably the best squad and is more than capable of winning every competition on offer this season.

LCS: Masheshena put up a good show to finish third last season under the mentorship of former Likuena defender Mpitsa Marai.

LCS probably followed the why fix it if it’s not broken philosophy as they did not make any big signings. They only acquired Sky Battalion winger, Thabang Malane, Tšotetsi Mabitle and Tefo Tsolo from B Division side Semonkong United.

Thato Monkhe is back from a season-long loan at A Division side Galaxy FC.

LCS already had a strong squad and missed out on the league after choking towards the end.

Moitheri Ntobo retired and will be coach the development side.

Midfielders Thabo Mafatle, Lepolesa Mpaka and Ralekoti Mokhahlane left the team. Mafatle and Mokhahlane joined Matlama and Kick4Life respectively on loan while Mpaka left due to school commitments.

Prediction: It would not be a surprise if the correctional service side went on to win the league they last won in the 2011/12 season.

Kick4Life: The Leslie Notši coached outfit led the way for part of last season only to choke towards the end.

They lost goal machine, Thabiso Brown, who moved to Bolivia and Morapeli Lesoetsa who went to the United States of America for studies.

They recruited the Sky Battalion trio of Tšepang Ntsenyane, striker Bonang Mohapi and goalkeeper Rorisang Moabi.

They also added former Likuena midfielder Ralekoti Mokhahlane who joined on a six month loan deal from LCS.

They have a good goalkeeper in 2015/16 Goalkeeper of the Season, Thetsane Sele and Moabi will be an excellent understudy and competition for the former.

Ntsenyane will certainly add value to the midfield which is dominated by veterans such as Thabo Masualle, Bokang Mothoana, Sefoli Ntoi and Tšeliso Sejake.

Mohapi might be a good replacement for Brown and playing alongside Nkoto Masoabi will probably do him good.

Seidu Kassum also came in from Liphakoe while Tebello Ntene and Lebone Mohasi have been promoted from the development team.

Kick4Life have a balanced squad of young and experience campaigners as well as a good coach.

The league title may well be beyond them but they will be very good competitors and possibly fight for the Top 4 and Top 8 trophies.

Prediction: Top five finish.

Sky Battalion: they punched above their weight to achieve a top five finish in their debut season but administrative problems forced Chinese owner, Hua Gao, to sell the franchise to NUL Rovers who had been relegated last season.

The University side had their own issues and it was only a matter of time before they were relegated.

Buying the Sky Battalion has given them a new lease of life but they will fight for their survival if they do not get their house in order this season.

Prediction: they will be in the relegation dogfight.

LDF: They haven’t won the league in a decade and are a pale shadow of the 1990s self.

Coach Motheo Mohapi has been looking for younger, hungrier players and Sohle-Sohle brought in 12 new players.

Some of the big names signed are former Likhopo winger, Thabo Mongali and goalkeeper, Teboho Ratibisi (formerly of Liphakoe).

Others who joined are under 17 midfielder, Tšepo Toloane, LCS striker Thabang Rabi, former Linare midfielder Letlatsa Moshoeshoe, Morena Moloi (Sandawana), Lebona Malebanye (Majantja), Ntlhoki Ntlhoki (Manonyane), Lebohang Kekhemane (Linare), Khaolo Moholeng, Tumisang Khubetsoana (CCX) and Thabo Kori (BB Warriors).

These signings will surely bring some energy and mobility to help the team compete for honours.

No players have been released by the Army side.

Prediction: They will fight for a top four finish

LMPS: The Police outfit had a decent campaign for the first time in five seasons and they finished seventh.

Mosito Matela will probably have a headache in selecting his striking combinations with the quality of attackers at his disposal such as Roboama Koloti who joined from Sandawana, Tšepo Seturumane (from Lioli), Monyatheli Ntobo from Swallows, Tefa Makhoana and Tanki Makhele.

LMPS also signed Matlama midfielder Relebohile Mabone, Sky Battalion defenders, Katleho Tatai and Reitumetsi Maqalika and midfielder, Kamohelo Kotelo, from Kick4Life.

Simunye also bolstered their goalkeeping department by adding national under 20 goal minder Sekhoane Moerane from Swallows.

These are all good players who will bring vitality to the LMPS squad which was dominated by older players.

Prediction: LMPS will only challenge for a top four finish.

Matlama: On paper the Sea-Point based outfit have a formidable squad after adding midfield star, Teboho Lillane, from Bantu and anchor Thabo Mafatle from LCS, last season’s golden boot runner-up, Nzenze Nkulu, from who was on loan at Linare from Bantu.

Matlama also registered Rasetabele Kalosane (formerly Likhopo), Reitumetsi Linkoane (B division), Moeketsi Sephiri, Morena Mohlominyane (South Africa) and goalkeeper Tshilo Tshilo from Liphakoe.

Lisema Lebokollane, Selikoe Mokhothu are back from loan at Lihale and Sky Battalion respectively

Thabiso Lichaba, Thabo Tekane, Relebohile Mabone, Letuka Mosehlenyane, Ngaka Kobo have also come in on Loan.

Nkulu should add more firepower alongside 2015/16 top scorer, Motebang Sera.

Prediction: If they can just sort out their off-field problems and put their house in order, Matlama can challenge for the league title and break their six year trophy drought.

 

Sandawana: Owned by the traditional healer, Thato Nkone, Sandawana finished ninth position last season under the tutelage of Spanish coach, Jesus Flores, who has since left the club. Freeze Ntene is now in charge.

New players are Thapelo Thahane, Karabo Qhojeng (both from Likila United), Monaheng Velaphe (Butha-Buthe Warriors), Lerato Mofokeng, Lehlohonolo Mahasane (Rovers), Malefetsane Mohapi and Majakathata Moshoeshoe.

Sandawana didn’t make any big singings but actually lost some key players including former captain, Johannes Molapo, Mkhwanazi Mkhwanazi and Rethabile Rasethuntsa. Playmaker, Mojalefa Tšoeu, is also presenting disciplinary issues.

These are huge gaps which will not be easy to fill but Ntene is a good coach.

The biggest challenge facing the club is that of administration and it could lead to their downfall.

Prediction: A top eight finish will be a big achievement.

Liphakoe: They were very active on the transfer market and acquired former Kick4Life goalkeeper, Makhanya Makhanya , goalkeeper, Chaba Tankiso (from LUFC), midfielder, Thaane Mokhehle, Thabelo Makoboshane (Fisters), Thato Dlamini (Lihale) and midfielder Katleho Mabetha (Sky Battalion).

They also have three foreign players, Theo Abouman, Leelee Dighi (both Nigeria) and Louis Boucheng (Cameroon).

Liphakoe did not have a great 2016/17 season and they struggled until they signed striker Lehlomela Ramabele who shared the scoring responsibilities with Neo Skhosana.

They have a good blend of experienced and young players.

Prediction: They will fight for a top eight finish.

Linare: If there is anything called luck in football then Linare must be the luckiest in our domestic league.

For the past three seasons Linare have been marred by controversies and last season players went as far as boycotting training.

The Hlotse outfit have signed former Matlama midfielder, Pali Tšalong.

Up the Greens however have a good coach in former Wits University striker, Teele Ntšonyana, who can make the team the force they were three seasons ago.

Just like Sandawana and Matlama, their biggest downfall is administrative.

Teele is going to need the full support of those in charge.

Prediction: Linare are likely to fight for survival.

Likhopo: The Red Army narrowly survived the chop by winning 2-0 in their match against Liphakoe to leapfrog Rovers into 12th spot.

Likhopo’s woes started when they lost the MGC sponsorship at the start of last season and ended up losing five key players.

Likhopo have recalled the former under 20 midfielder, Moesa Mofelehetsi, singed defender, Robert Mekumba, from Kick4Life and Toka Mokhalinayne from Sky Battalion.

Prediction: Nothing much can be really expected from the late Bishop Molatoli’s team and a top eight finish will be huge a bonus for them.

Sefotha-Fotha: They are newcomers and their first ever premier league season will not be a walk in a park.

The Mabote Police outfit had stellar 2016/17 season where they won the North Stream League with four matches to spare.

However, this will be a sterner test for them.

Sefotha-Fotha signed Matlama midfielder, Letuka Mosehlenyane, Tšolo Molibeli and Phalatsi Sekoloto (both from LMPS).

Prediction: The premier league will be a tough and they may not make the top 10.

Surprises cannot be ruled out as shown by Sky Battalion who finished fifth in their maiden season.

Majantja: Coached by the no-nonsense, Motlatsi Shale, Majantja return after being relegated at the end of the 2009/10 season.

Shale will be assisted by former Kaizer Chiefs attacker, Lekoane Lekoane, who heads the technical team and as such, Majantja might not struggle that much.

The red and white outfit also bolstered their squad with players such as Thabo Tekane (from Matlama), Liteboho Nkune (Bantu) and Toka Mokhalinyane from Sky Battalion.

These are potentially good signings but hey need to work their socks off as they did not see much game time at their previous clubs.

Sello Ramalapi, Tlahakenelo Semethe, Khauta Foso were released by the club.

Prediction: Mid-table finish.

 

 

Comments are closed.