MAFETENG – Bantu made a clear statement of intent when they edged Lioli by a goal to nil in a Vodacom Premier League match in Mafeteng yesterday.
A Matšo Matebele, the black and yellow knights from Mafeteng, made it two major wins in as many outings as they disposed of Lioli at home yesterday, following on swiftly from another fine display against another challenger Linare last time out.
Bantu are now second on the log table with 23 points, a point behind leaders LCS.
The Mafeteng side have two games in hand.
The match between two of Lesotho’s super clubs was however not without controversy as unsavoury scenes of hooliganism crept up again.
Lioli substitute Lekhotso Morapeli had to be separated from Bantu fans as chaos broke out at the final whistle.
Maybe the positive was that there was no violence after home supporters invaded the pitch and went for Morapeli as a result of an altercation between the player and fans a few minutes before the end.
Nonetheless the episode highlighted the grave problems that still dog local football brought by poor, unsafe facilities and inadequate security.
But for yesterday at least Bantu would not have cared, as A Matšo Makaota took another eye-catching step forwards in what has become a crusade to win a first-ever championship in the Mafeteng side’s history.
For Lioli on the other hand it was another disappointing day for their fading title hopes.
Tse Nala are now seventh, eight points off the top of the log.
Lioli coach Halemakale Mahlaha tried to put on a brave face at the end of the match.
“The performance of my team was good, it was upfront where we lacked,” he said.
“If you look at the teams above us its still possible for us to win if we can fix this problem.”
All in all Lioli did play well; with the talent in their ranks this was perhaps not a surprise.
Motlalepula Mofolo was at times imperious in the midfield and Montoeli Sonopo showed why he is possibly the most thrilling talent in Lesotho right now.
But the problem with Lioli, as has been the case over the past year, was the lack of cutting edge and power upfront.
And as has been the case for the past 12 months the Teyateyaneng side were punished for their toothless attack.
In the 39th minute referee Mohau Sentšo adjudged Lioli defender Alli Maseka to have fouled Bantu striker Mpho Matsinyane and Makoanyane XI playmaker Mosiuoa Boseka.
It was a case of déjà-vu.
Last March Boseka, in the colours of Swallows, scored a similar stunner to knock Lioli off their stride.
Chances and openings did come for the visitors, but set-pieces were wasted.
A Matšo Makaota for their part had to deal with the losses to injury of captain Tefo Maipato and Tlali Maile, but in what was a typical hot blooded derby – with flying tackles and fervent noise from two sets of passionate supporters – Bantu kept their heads to seal all three points.
“It’s still early, if we win the remaining six points in the first round I will be able to talk,” Bantu mentor Tšehla Lerotholi said when asked if Bantu were now favourites. “My plan was to get 12 points from the matches against Linare, Lioli, LDF and Likhopo. We are taking it step by step.”