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Can teams maintain this flying start to the season?

 

Moorosi Tsiane

The 2014/15 Vodacom Lesotho Premier League season kicked off last weekend, and what an explosive start to the year it was!

I was among the many football fans who went to the various stadia to watch some of the fixtures, which saw a total of 21 goals being scored in seven games, making it an average of three strikes per tie.

The Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) were the biggest winners of the weekend following their 5-2 humiliation of police outfit LMPS, while Lioli registered a 2-0 win over Sundawana FC. Defending champions Bantu and league rookies Likila United, won 2-1 against Kick4Life and Likhopo, respectively.

Hlotse-based giants Linare, who finished third on the log last season behind winners Bantu and runners-up Lioli, also collected maximum points in their opening match of the season with a 1-0 win against Qoaling Highlanders.

The Freese Ntene-coached side were a real force to reckon with last term and based on last weekend’s performance, don’t appear to have lost the hunger to succeed, which they exhibited throughout 2013/14.

The most successful teams in domestic football, Matlama and army side LDF, were held to surprise one-all draws versus Nyenye Rovers and Mphatlalatsane respectively, which must have left the two giants kicking their heels in frustration.

Considering that Matlama have won nine league champions and LDF eight, and had been heavily tipped to be among the contenders for the title this season, the draws must have been seen as setbacks by their respective fans and management.

It was a real smashing start to the campaign following almost four months of inaction, but the big question is: are we going to see even better football this time around, considering the various player-transfers which took place during the off-season?

I mean, if you look at LCS, for instance, they were one of the struggling sides last season after Katiso Mojakhomo took over from Mosholu Mokhothu, who led the team to back-to-back league titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12.

But after their demolition of LMPS last weekend, and seeing the confident way the players were moving the ball around, it is really tempting to conclude that maybe Masheshena’s glory days are finally back.

Bantu, on the other hand, have boosted their squad with experienced players such as midfielders Litšepe Marabe and Bongani Faki, defenders Katleho Lethabela, Tšepo Rantaitsana and Seperiti Malefane, and goalkeeper Kholuoe Phasumane.

This was a team which won the 2013/14 season in such emphatic fashion, and yet still found it necessary to add more quality to their squad. This can only mean Bantu would still be the team to beat this season.

Lioli, on their part, only made one signing during the off-season, bringing in  defender Mkhwanazi Mkhwanazi from Mpharane Celtics. Yet Tse Nala have the most dangerous team on paper, with nine of their players regulars in the national team.

With such an array of stars, Lioli should be favourites to lift the league title this season, but as we all know, football is as unpredictable as the weather and anything can happen in a match.

The likes of Sundawana FC, previously known as Mpharane Celtics, should also be taken seriously this season.

Now under the ownership of popular traditional healer, Thato ‘Sundawana’ Nkone, the team busy on the market and made significant purchases under new coach, Moses Maliehe.

Sundawana have signed four internationals and also secured the services of last year’s Young Player of the Season, Tumelo Khutlang, who is a member of the national under-20 side, Makoanyane XI, which incidentally, is coached by Maliehe.

This makes Sundawana, who are hoping to sign more players before the transfer window closes today, a potent force and based on what Nkone has said he wants his team to be—the giants of continental football—then underrating this side would be folly for the other 13 teams in the Premiership.

To confirm what I have just said about football being a fickle sport, newcomers Likila United shocked 2005/6 league champions, Likhopo 2-1away from home last weekend.

Likila’s win over fancied Likhopo proved they are in topflight football to compete, and not just to add to the numbers. But Likila’s staying power would be tested in the topflight league, as they would need to be on top of their game week-in-week-out.

Kick4Life also made an impressive start to life in the elite league despite losing to reigning champions, Bantu.

With the season ending next year in May, I believe fans would have had their fair share of fun and teams also lived up to the pre-season hype which had various club officials purring about how they hope to lift the biggest prize in domestic football, this time around.

 

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