Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What we learned from Week 8 of the Econet Premier League

Matlama's 2-0 defeat to Kick4Life came at the worst possible time...
It was another exciting Econet Premier League weekend in what has been a season full of them. There was drama, there were goals and there were shocks. Here is some of what we learned from Week 8 of the season.

Bantu continue dominance over Linare
It’s official. Whenever Bantu are in trouble they should just play Linare. On Sunday, A Matšo Matebele beat Tse Tala 1-0 at the Maputsoe DiFA Stadium thanks to Motlomelo Mkhwanazi’s winner to make it five wins a row against the Leribe side dating back to October 2016.

Bantu’s winning run v Linare:
11-11-18
Linare
0-1
Bantu
W
17-02-18
Bantu
4-2
Linare
W
24-09-17
Linare
0-3
Bantu
W
19-02-17
Linare
0-2
Bantu
W
29-10-16
Bantu
3-0
Linare
W

In fact, since Bantu were promoted back to the top-flight in 2011, they haven’t lost to Linare winning 13 of 17 matches.

Bantu’s record v Linare since 2011:
Matches played
Wins
Draws
Losses
Goals for
Goals against
Points
17
13
4
0
29
9
43

It’s an incredible record and, once again, a win over Linare has boosted Bantu. The champions are up to third place in the Econet Premier League, just two points off the top after languishing in ninth just a month ago. It’s good a way to head into the international break with James Madidilane’s side finally picking up form.

Lioli still have Independence Cup hangover
Three weeks ago Lioli impressively won the Top 4 Independence Cup but the win probably came too soon – this new Tse Nala team wasn’t ready for the success.

Lioli are a side still in transition after a mass exodus of players and the arrival of Lehlohonolo Thotanyana as coach in the off-season. The Independence Cup probably painted a picture of Tse Nala that wasn’t accurate and perhaps gave Lioli a false sense of confidence.

Lioli’s growing pains were something Thotanyana was at pains to stress heading into this past weekend.

“Football can sometimes give you a false picture and we will win some matches but we are not there as yet,” he said. “We have to be honest with ourselves and I don’t think we can win (the league) this season.”

It’s difficult to disagree with the coach’s assessment with Lioli’s deficiencies laid bare in their two league outings since the Independence Cup triumph – a 1-0 loss to LCS last weekend and Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Liphakoe.
                                             
The loss at the LCS Stadium was Lioli’s first loss to Liphakoe since the Quthing side were promoted to the top-flight in 2015.

Lioli v Liphakoe #EconetPrem H2H
11-11-18
Liphakoe
2-0
Lioli
W
18-03-18
Liphakoe
0-2
Lioli
L
14-10-17
Lioli
3-1
Liphakoe
L
01-03-17
Liphakoe
0-1
Lioli
L
02-10-16
Lioli
2-0
Liphakoe
L
16-04-16
Lioli
3-0
Liphakoe
L
12-12-15
Liphakoe
1-2
Lioli
L

More importantly, Tse Nala find themselves way down in eighth place heading into the international break, seven points off the top of the Econet Premier League.
Lioli were outclassed by Liphakoe...
Their second defeat in a row since winning the Independence Cup
Matlama lose at the wrong time
There is never a good time to lose but Matlama’s 2-0 defeat to Kick4Life on Sunday couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Tse Putsoa had been riding high, sitting top and winning five of their opening seven games as they headed into Sunday’s game against Kick4Life.

Matlama, however, were yet to be truly tested in the league this season and there were questions if they would slip against the league’s top sides.

No one would have expected Matlama’s slip would come against Kick4Life though. Thabile Secker’s normally lethal offence never clicked and two costly lapses at the back allowed Norman Kumatse and Tšeliso Botsane to get the all-important goals for Kick4Life.

Now Matlama will have two weeks to stew over this loss because this weekend, of course, is the international break.

And when they get back Matlama will face champions Bantu. That game will mark the start of a daunting stretch of games where Tse Putsoa will face Lioli, LDF, LMPS and LCS in successive weeks.

It would have been nice to go into those games with a win.

Matlama’s upcoming fixtures:
24 November - Bantu v Matlama
02 December - Matlama v Lioli
09 December - LDF v Matlama
15 December - Matlama v LMPS
22 December - LCS v Matlama

Majantja and Swallows look relegation favourites
Both Majantja and Swallows are examples of what happens when teams with small margins of error add off-field dysfunction into the mix.

On Sunday, Majantja lost 3-1 Likhopo at Ratjomose. It was their third loss in their last four games and it dropped them to the foot of the Econet Premier League table. The plunge is partly a by-product of chaos off the field with club president Mpho Raithule leaving the team on Monday after just six months.

The team’s assistant coach Masupha Letsie is also suspended for misconduct and there have been rumblings of unhappy players. All is not lost, but the Mohale’s Hoek side looked particularly off the pace on Sunday against Likhopo in the season’s first relegation six-pointer.

Coach Ramoshweu Malapane has a big job on his hands to turn things around.

Majantja’s season so far:
LDF 1-0 Majantja
Majantja 0-1 LMPS
LCS 3-0 Majantja
Majantja 2-0 Lioli
Linare 2-0 Majantja
Majantja 1-1 Liphakoe
Majantja 1-3 Matlama
Likhopo 3-1 Majantja

Newly-promoted Swallows are in a similarly worrying position with similar talk of disorder in the club’s management committee. The Mazenod side started the season well enough, beginning with an impressive 1-1 draw with LCS in their first game and then beating Liphakoe 1-0 the following week. Somewhere along the line things went off the rails, however.

Swallows season so far:
LCS 1-1 Swallows
Swallows 1-0 Liphakoe
Linare 3-2 Swallows
Swallows 0-2 LMPS
Likhopo 0-0 Swallows
Swallows 0-4 Matlama
Sefotha-fotha 0-0 Swallows
Swallows 0-2 Galaxy

Maswi-swai haven’t won since September. They have lost four of their past six games and haven’t scored a goal since September 30 in a 3-2 loss to Linare. Swallows have to right their ship during the international break.

Galaxy and Likhopo may have what it takes to survive
Galaxy and Likhopo aren’t near the top of the Econet Premier League table but, respectively, they have some elite defensive and offensive numbers so far.

On Sunday, Galaxy beat the aforementioned Swallows 2-0 at Ratjomose which means the newly-promoted side haven’t conceded a goal since a 1-0 loss LDF on October 4, a run of four matches.  It is the longest run in the league and during that time the Maputsoe side have gone unbeaten to move up to 10th place.

Galaxy’s season so far:
LMPS 1-0 Galaxy
Galaxy 1-3 LCS
Liphakoe 1-0 Galaxy
Galaxy 0-1 LDF
Matlama 0-0 Galaxy
Galaxy 0-0 Linare
Galaxy 3-0 Likhopo
Swallows 0-2 Galaxy

“It has always been about trying to be cautious at the back,” Galaxy coach Thabang Busa said recently.

“We are taking things step by step. This is why we were focusing on defending in previous matches so that we don’t get any unnecessary pressure. The target is now for us to go for maximum points now that we know we can play without conceding.”

Busa is right. Galaxy’s defence will always give them a chance and, possibly, enough points to survive the drop.

Likhopo are on the opposite end of the scale.

Their defence is nowhere near as good as Galaxy’s and the Red Army have conceded 17 goals (the most in the league).

However, at the other end, Likhopo have scored 10 goals this season and only the league’s top two teams (LCS and Matlama) have scored more goals than Halemakale Mahlaha’s side. In their own way, Likhopo  with talents such as Morena Mohlominyane  can also go into every game with a sense of optimism.

For different reasons, both Galaxy and Likhopo have shown they have what it takes to survive.

Weekend Results:
Saturday
Liphakoe 2-0 Lioli
LCS v LDF
LMPS v Sefotha-fotha
Sunday
Linare 0-1 Bantu
Matlama 0-2 Kick4Life
Swallows 0-2 Galaxy
Likhopo 3-1 Majantja

Econet Premier League Standings:


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
LCS
8
5
2
1
17
5
12
17
2
Matlama
8
5
2
1
16
4
12
17
3
Bantu
8
4
3
1
9
3
6
15
4
LDF
8
4
3
1
5
4
1
15
5
Liphakoe
8
4
2
2
8
5
3
14
6
Linare
8
4
1
3
9
10
-1
13
7
LMPS
8
3
2
3
5
5
0
11
8
Lioli
8
3
1
4
6
8
-2
10
9
Kick4Life
8
2
3
3
4
7
-3
9
10
Galaxy
8
2
2
4
6
6
0
8
11
Sefotha-fotha
8
1
4
3
4
8
-4
7
12
Likhopo
8
2
1
5
10
17
-7
7
13
Swallows
8
1
3
4
4
12
-8
6
14
Majantja
8
1
1
6
5
14
-9
4