THE highly anticipated 2018/19 Econet Premier League season finally kicked off yesterday.
Fourteen teams in the elite league are once again tussling for the converted M500 000 prize which is sponsored by telecommunication giants Econet Telecom Lesotho who injected M6 million for a period of three years starting in 2017.
In the initial season, Econet injected M2 million which will be replicated in the remaining two.
The funding saw the league winners Bantu taking home an increased prize package of M500 000 from the previous M200 000.
Last season was marred by some controversies among them the disqualification of Sandawana from the league after failing to fulfill three consecutive fixtures, eventual champions Bantu’s foreign player registration and Lioli player Tšoanelo Koetle’s doping saga where refused to take a doping test.
When the new sponsors were announced in September 2017, one had expected to see marked improvements in the teams to better their chances at pocketing the huge prize but some focused more on off the field battles.
Lioli for the first time in five years ended the season without any silverware and settled to being runners-up to Bantu.
I take solace in that the particular season is behind us and hope the new one which started yesterday afternoon will not degenerate into similar form.
Before the season opened yesterday, we had seen several teams serious at work in the preseason playing in different tournaments preparing for the serious work and I must say we could be up for some surprises this season.
For the past six seasons Bantu and Lioli have dominated the domestic league and have each won three titles.
Last season Matlama and LDF pushed the two sides in the race and settled for third and fourth respectively.
Matlama also snatched the annual Top8 tournament to end their eight-season trophy drought.
Hopefully this season LDF and Matlama will start from where they left off and give Bantu and Lioli a run for their money.
Matlama won the Econet Soccer Spectacular tournament last month which was an impressive feat for the newly appointed coach Thabile Secker who replaced Mosito Matela.
Lioli have also made some changes in their technical team re-appointing Lehlohonolo Thotanyana as the head coach assisted by two-time league winner with Lioli, Mosholi Mokhothu.
The duo is faced with a mammoth task of getting the team back to trophy winning ways and challenge their arch rivals Bantu for the honours.
Nonetheless, we are hoping to see a competitive season this time around as most of the local teams have worked to boost their squads while some also appointed foreign coaches.
Let the race begin!