MASERU –– The 2009/10 Buddie Premier League season gets underway next weekend and the Sunday Express looks ahead to the playmakers and play takers in this team by team guide.
Coach: Bafokeng Mohapi
Newly-promoted Bantu are back in Lesotho’s top-flight after a four-year hiatus. They arrive with bundles of promise –– not to mention the hopes of a football-starved Mafeteng. New coach Bafokeng Mohapi has strengthened the side in critical areas, adding the nous of Tlali Maile in defence and the class of Moses Ramafole in midfield.
However Bantu’s masterstroke could be the coaxing of the precocious Tefo Maipato from Orlando Pirates who will no doubt add creativity and variety.
But Bantu have a small squad and still look short on options up front. They will be hard-pressed to meet the lofty expectations of their supporters and mid-table would be a good season back.
Player to watch: Tefo Maipato (midfielder).
The 23-year-old has spent two fruitless seasons in Orlando Pirates’ development sides. He will no doubt seek to prove himself.
League prediction: 9th
Coach: Letšilo Lesela
Butha-Buthe Roses, who escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, will start the new campaign under a new coach, Letšilo Lesela.
A lot will depend on how quickly Roses can learn from the mistakes of last season, the most pressing being a porous defence.
Apart from the two relegated sides (Sekamaneng Young Stars and Naughty Boys) Roses had the worst defence in the league conceding 51 goals.
Lesela has made no eye-catching additions and relegation looms large for the Butha-Buthe boys.
Player to watch: Ramontšo Makafane (defender).
A consistent performer last season, the left-back was one of the few shining lights in a poor campaign for Roses. Strong in the tackle and quick to attack, he will once again be a vital piece of the puzzle.
Coach: Molefe Frantši
Joy surprised all last season by finishing eighth in the league. But the Sebothoane side will find it tough to reproduce those feats this term.
Last season Joy simply ran out of steam –– losing four of their final five games –– and the slump seems to have continued into the new season. Captain Moli Lesesa is reportedly unhappy after he was denied a move away from the club and it is unclear whether he will play for Joy again.
The side still have quality in Nkosi Tshabalala, Sekonyela Ntlhokoe and Tšepo Ponoane but a tough season surely awaits.
Player to watch: Nkosi Tshabalala (striker).
Tshabalala’s 12 goal-tally was one of the main reasons Joy finished in the top eight and much will depend on him this season.
Coach: Katiso Mojakhomo
LCS will look to put right last season’s disappointing third place finish by mounting a serious championship challenge this time around. And Masheshena certainly have the quality to do so. The side is brimming with international talent and LCS have fixed last season’s biggest problem area by acquiring the services of Likuena goalkeeper Sam Ketsekile.
Last season LCS were disastrously knocked off their stride when they found out that they wouldn’t play in the Champions League and it will be interesting to see what happens if the same situation arises.
That said, LCS boast a squad with the greatest depth and a coach who knows what it takes to win the league.
Player to watch: Lieta Lehloka (midfielder).
This is an important season for the 22-year-old. Lehloka hasn’t made a significant impression since his arrival from Likhopo two years ago. However he showed great form during the recent MGC Supa 8.
Coach: Motheo Mohapi
LDF are always there or thereabout every season, but have just lacked the firepower to fire them to the top.
Sohle-Sohle are always hard to beat, and last season LDF lost only three league games while also boasting the division’s best defence. However it is upfront where regular cutting edge is needed. Last season the goal-scoring burden fell solely on star striker Lire Phiri. But he has endured a poor pre-season, and LDF will need to find goals from more sources this season.
Player to watch: Jankefe Molibeli (defender).
Just as comfortable at right-back or further forward, Molibeli missed a large chunk of last season because of suspension. But he has enjoyed a promising pre-season and his pace down the flank will give LDF much needed variety.
Coach: Naleli Tšilo
Lerotholi’s most important signing is the arrival of Naleli Tšilo as coach.
The former LMPS mentor is one the country’s finest brains and led his unfancied former side to two cups in two years. He joins a Lerotholi side brimming with talent but even more ill-discipline.
The loss of inspirational captain Tlali Maile will be a setback but if Tšilo can work his magic then Lerotholi could be a dark-horse this season.
Player to watch: Tseliso Sejake (midfielder)
The former Likhopo schemer had a poor season last time around due to a wrangle between his former employers and Lerotholi which saw him make his first appearance of the season in January. Nonetheless on the few occasions he did play Sejake showed he has the spark to ignite Lihale.
Coach: Bishop Molatoli
On their day Likhopo are a match for any side in the league, and under the fiery tutelage of Bishop Molatoli they will not be a team to be taken lightly.
However the side remains young and inexperienced, and the consistency needed to improve on their sixth place finish last season seems to be beyond them.
Player to watch: Thapelo Tale (striker)
The most devastating forward in Lesotho at the moment. Still erratic with his finishing, but blessed with mindboggling pace.
Coach: Pitso Mosothoane
The Leribe side are inconsistent, and the downward spiral that has taken place at Linare looks set to continue. Linare have shown few signs of improving on last season’s showing during pre-season, struggling to score goals while conceding them by the bundles.
The side still have good players in energetic captain Molefi Mosebo, lofty striker Mabuti Potloane and elegant playmaker Moqecho Leboneng. Linare also lost just one of their last 11 games last season.
A lot will depend on how the side deals with the absence of evergreen striker Kabelo Mosothoane.
Player to watch: Moqecho Leboneng (midfielder) –– Leboneng will be the creative force for Linare this season having been given a free role in the hole behind the strikers.
Coach: Mosholi Mokhothu
The defending champions have kept their championship winning squad sprinkling a few improvements. At their best Lioli were untouchable last season as LDF can attest to, indeed
Tse Nala scored in every game bar one. Stable keeper, solid back four and a creative midfield Lioli have also added Seenyane Nthejane to bolster their attack.
There is no doubt Lioli start the season as kings of Lesotho however the pressure of defending their championship could turn out to be their biggest foe.
Player to watch: Seenyane Nthejane (striker)
With pace to burn Nthejane gives Lioli a new dimension to their attack, namely the ability to go over the top of defences instead of through them.
Coach: Lelia Makubekube
As illustrated by their recent MGC Supa 8 victory LMPS continue to be the most improved side in the country.
However Simunye’s biggest problem in the league marathon is consistency. LMPS are always up for the big occasion but they always struggle when the stakes aren’t as high.
LMPS quandary remains their lack of creativity and variety; last season Simunye had the worst goal-scoring record of the top four finding the net just 34 times. But LMPS are well-organised, physical and their height will make them a particular threat at set-pieces.
Player to watch: Mokhethi Matšora (striker). –– The goal hero in MGC Supa 8 victory, Matšora has been elevated from sidelines to being Bokang Mohasi’s new partner in crime. His direct running and hassling will trouble defenders.
Coach: Tsehla Lerotholi
Last season Majantja were simply woeful, finishing just two points above the relegation zone. The Mohale’s Hoek side were in fact rescued by a miraculous May run where they won four out of four games before drawing 0-0 with LDF on the final day. If drastic improvement is not found this season then Majantja will be relegated.
Player to watch: Pule Agente (goalkeeper) –– The Under-20 international is one of Lesotho’s most promising goalkeepers, and he will definitely have plenty of time to showcase his skills this season.
Coach: Ntebele Taole
Giants turned crisis club. Each season for Matlama starts with the promise of hope but always ends up short.
Matlama fortunately boast bags of talent. And they have managed to hold on to the services man mountain defender Nkau Lerotholi. They are too good to drop out of the top five but have fallen some way off the pace of Lesotho’s elite sides.
Player to watch: Litšepe Marabe (midfielder) –– Arguably the best left-winger in the country at the moment Marabe is a troublemaker on the touchline.
Coach: Khethang Ntsoerent
Mphatlalatsane are another side which always encounters problems at some stage of the season. They have added experienced warhorse to other experienced players such as Molefe Makhele, Majara Masupha and the ever reliable Tlou Nthinya. They also have some good young players. A top 10 finish would be a great achievement for the St Monica’s outfit.
Player to watch: Kopano Tseka (midfielder)
The wide man enjoyed a breakthrough season last year and attracted the attentions of champions.
Coach: Motlalepula Majoro
Nyenye Rovers’ pre-season performances have marked them out as the team to watch in the new season. Fast, direct and physical they will pose a lot of problems and not many sides will relish the trip to Nyenye this coming season. If Rovers can get off to a good start and overcome the perennial December fever smaller sides suffer they could well finish in the top eight.
Player to watch: Lebohang Monokoa (striker) –– The big striker was one of the main reasons Nyenye Rovers made it to the top flight.
Coach: Ntsite Molapo
Rovers are the enigma of the league. They will be hurt by the loss of the captain and talismanic forward Seenyane Nthejane who has joined Lioli. Relegation candidates.
Player to watch: Mpho Matsinyane (striker) –– The striker will have to take over the mantle left by Nthejane.
Coach: Tšeliso Fothoane
After an outstanding start last season, Swallows faded badly. At one point the Mazenod side were third in the league, tied on points with the first-placed side. But Swallows then won only three of their following 21 games, losing 15.
That form made them the worst side apart from Sekamaneng Young Stars in the division in 2009. Swallows also managed a paltry 17 goals.
Similar form this season will earn them a one way ticket to the first division, especially as four sides are facing the chop this season.
Player to watch: Mohau Khali (striker)