MASERU — After nine months of action the Vodacom Premier League reaches a dramatic climax this afternoon.
Log leaders LDF take on LCS at Ratjomose in a clash that will decide which of the two clubs wins the 2010/11 league title, the M100 000 jackpot and the ultimate prize in Lesotho football.
It is a match of epic proportions, 90 minutes that will not only crown the league champions but could also potentially hand the winners a money-spinning tie against newly-crowned South African champions Orlando Pirates in next season’s Caf Champions League.
Sohle-Sohle and Masheshena go into this finale tied on 54 points at the top of the log.
LCS who are just ahead thanks to their superior goal difference need a draw to scoop the title.
But LDF simply have to win.
There are many intriguing storylines to today’s match.
A win for Sohle-Sohle would move them alongside Matlama as Lesotho’s most successful team with nine titles.
Masheshena are looking to become only the third side, after Matlama and LDF, to win five championships.
LDF have the best home record having taken 30 points from a possible 39 at Ratjomose this season, while LCS have the finest away record and are the only side undefeated on their travels.
The sub-plots don’t end there.
Not only are LDF and LCS tied on points — they also have the premiership’s top scorers this season, Mojela Letsie and Thabane Rankara, who have both scored 13 goals.
In addition both teams are captained by warhorse left-backs Khoto Sesinyi and Lengana Nkhethoa and play a conventional 4-4-2 formation.
So where will these two juggernauts be separated? Like in all matches one crucial area will be the midfield.
It is here that LCS will welcome back midfielder Ralekoti Mokhahlane who was suspended for their 1-0 win over Matlama at Setsoto Stadium on Wednesday.
Without him LCS were overrun by Matlama and were lucky to scrape a 1-0 win. With Mokhahlane Masheshena have been the most effective side since the turn of the year.
Since losing 2-1 to LDF in January, their only defeat of the season, LCS have won 13 of their 16 games. They scored 35 goals and conceded just nine.
Although LDF haven’t quite hit the same highs they are also in rampant form.
Since a shock 1-0 loss to Joy at Ratjomose in March, their only defeat at home, LDF have won eight out of nine matches, scoring 20 goals.
“The attacking third will be the most important area.
“The ones who take their chances will win the match. We are ready to take our chances,” LDF icon Malefetsane Pheko said yesterday.
Pheko has collected six league winner’s medals since joining LDF from Lioli in 1992, making him Lesotho’s most decorated player.
Tšepo Keketsi is likely to continue upfront for LDF alongside Letsie in the place of one of the finds of the season, Thabo Mphethe.
The team’s midfield of Matli Matli and Bongata Kori is solid and efficient.
Much will depend also on how LCS are able to deal with Letsie who has been the most destructive centre forward in Lesotho football over the past two seasons.
His physical presence allows LDF an almost never-ending focal point of attack. But Letsie is not just a bulldozer; he also has good skills and is a deft finisher.
For LCS it is unclear who will start on the wings. Tšeliso Khali is still struggling with injury which caused him to miss last Saturday’s win over Joy and saw him hauled off in the second half against Matlama on Wednesday.
LCS coach Mafa Ramakau, whose eight league winner’s medals is a record, said Masheshena would not play for a draw.
“We are not going to play those long balls, that is their style. We are going to play it on the ground,” Ramakau said. “They are very defensive so we are going to pin them in their half.”
“(Their counter-attacks) will only happen if we all go forward; we have to make sure three players stay behind to cover. But we will make them defend because of our approach,” Ramakau added.
Pheko said previous records, such as LDF’s home record, didn’t matter.
“It doesn’t work, if a team has prepared and is determined they will win. Our field has grass, their field has grass, the team that takes their chances will carry the day,” he said.
LDF do have the look of a settled side. Although they have a pragmatic style it is effectively understood and carried out.
LCS on the other hand play a more passing and technique-based style of football. It will therefore depend on which side imposes their style best.
Hopefully there will be a big crowd to witness the match at Ratjomose.
This is the final Lesotho has been waiting for.