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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ronaldo - O Fenomeno

All-time Great
Ronaldo - O Fenomeno

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lesotho's title contenders - Half-time Predictions

This Vodacom Premier League season has been by far the most unpredictable in recent memory.

Linare, LDF, Bantu and LCS have all sat at the summit of the table at some point this season as Lesotho’s top teams have played a sort of musical chairs. In fact at times it seems as though the clubs would prefer to hug, hold hands and share the title. But alas this is the league, it is war and there can only be one winner.

With the league’s first round over and the second leg starting this weekend its time for those prized half-time predictions.

LDF
LDF are second in the Vodacom Premier League but to me the soldiers are favourites for the title. Sohle-Sohle have the collective experience that is needed to win a championship and in Motheo Mohapi they have an astute tactician. However more than anything, at this point LDF stand out simply because they tick the most boxes of the challenging pack.

Sohle-Sohle may not be the most attractive side but in Mojela Letsie they have the most underrated striker in Lesotho, a forward who guarantees a goal threat with his bulldozer style of play. LDF also have a solid, no-nonsense defence that is screened by a hard working midfield. In this season of tight margins that might be all that is needed to claim the top prize.

Prediction: 1st

Bantu
Bantu, who were only promoted back to the top-flight in 2009, are Lesotho’s fairytale team and find themselves in first place at the halfway stage of the season.

Still, it remains to be seen if A Matšo Matebele have the legs and the savvy to win a league marathon. After the recent departure of Teboho Nthako to Lioli the Mafeteng side now also lack a recognised goalscorer. Recent 1-0 victories over Linare and Lioli and a 0-0 draw with LDF (all at home) are more than satisfactory results; however both wins were down to moments of magic from playmakers Tefo Maipato and Mosiuoa Boseka respectively while Bantu hardly threatened against LDF.

Bantu’s spine is strong. Daniel Jousse is without doubt Lesotho’s top keeper while captain Tlali Maile is arguably the best defender. But while their midfield which includes talents such as "Chico" Maipato and Boseka can be outstanding on its day, as LMPS, Matlama and LDF have shown in recent clashes, it can also be overrun.

Prediction: 2nd

LCS
So far LCS have been their own worst enemy. Masheshena boast a squad full of Lesotho internationals but just can’t seem to get it together consistently enough to win a league crown. LCS's record of six wins and six draws from 13 games this season perhaps says it all. LCS are hard to beat but also find it hard to grab matches by the horns. Still, given the quality in their ranks and the knowledge of coach Mafa “Ribbo” Ramakau, who is Lesotho's most decorated coach, Masheshena will no doubt be in the title picture come May.

Prediction: 3rd

Linare
Linare have reached the top of the premiership on sheer talent.  Tse Tala are playing the most attractive brand of football in Lesotho at the moment, however the question mark remains; can Linare continue their form in the second half of the season? The initial signs don’t look too good, Linare lost their last two opening round fixtures to LCS and Bantu and each of the past two seasons the Leribe side has faltered badly in the second half of the campaign.

Linare do have some old war horses in their stable including Refiloe Potse who won consecutive titles with LCS in 2007 and 2008. Midfield schemers Moses Ramafole and Molefi Mosebo also bring much needed know-how, but collectively Linare are still a relatively young side.

Prediction: 4th

Matlama
Somehow despite all their troubles this season the champions are still in with a shout to defend their title. The Maseru Glamour Boys still boast the most complete squad in the country and they illustrated their qualities in a 2-1 second leg home win over South African champions SuperSport United in a preliminary Caf Champions League tie two weeks ago.

Although Matlama were knocked out 3-2 on aggregate they will have gained tons of confidence.

One stumbling block for Tse Putsoa could be the absence of their starlets Litšepe Marabe, Tšoanelo Koetle, Mohau Khali and Motiki Mohale who will all be involved with the national under-20 team, the Makoanyane XI, at next month’s Caf African Youth Championship.

Prediction: 5th

LMPS
Over the past two years LMPS have consistently proved they can beat anyone on their day. But it is their record against the so-called weaker sides that is worrisome. Already this season they have lost to Swallows and Joy.

That said LMPS remain a dark horse.

Simunye’s modus operandi hasn't changed; LMPS have a mean defensive while classy midfielder Bota Ramantsoe is the man who makes things tick in the centre of the park. Their style of play is direct and brutally efficient. However the consistency to win a league title is always the biggest question when it comes to LMPS. Simunye have finished in the top four in three of the last four seasons without ever really threatening to shake things up.

Prediction: 6th

Likhopo
Likhopo is a factory of young talent and this will perhaps be their undoing this season. With at least six players sure to be involved with the Makoanyane XI at the Caf African Youth Championship Likhopo will face even more postponements and rearranged fixtures in the run in.

As it is Likhopo, who won Lesotho's national cup the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular competition last November, have played the least number of games in the league. Playing catch-up in this cut-throat season in which four of the 14 teams will be relegated will not be easy.

Prediction: 7th

Lioli
Of all the top sides Lioli’s plight is the most worrying. Off the field Tse Nala continue to be Lesotho’s trendsetters, but on the field the Teyateyaneng giants are struggling bit time.

Lioli have won just two of their last seven league matches.

Tse Nala have tried to rectify their goalscoring problems with the signing of Bantu hitman and long-term target Teboho Nthako. It remains to be seen whether Nthako will be able to effectively lead Tse Nala’s frontline. But Lioli’s defence is also struggling with the fullback areas looking particularly porous. It’s perhaps why Lioli are the only side other than lowly Mphatlalatsane without an away win all season.

Prediction: 8th

Vodacom Premier League standings

P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
1
Bantu
12
7
3
2
16
10
6
24
2
LCS
13
6
6
1
15
9
6
24
3
LDF
13
6
6
1
14
8
6
24
4
Linare
13
6
4
3
16
11
5
22
5
LMPS
13
6
3
4
15
10
5
21
6
Matlama
11
4
5
2
8
6
2
17
7
Joy
12
3
6
3
11
8
3
15
8
Lioli
12
4
3
5
15
14
1
15
9
Likhopo
10
4
3
3
11
10
1
15
10
Maduma
12
4
3
5
16
18
-2
15
11
Lerotholi
13
3
4
6
11
16
-5
13
12
Mphatlalatsane
13
1
6
6
17
25
-8
9
13
Swallows
13
1
5
7
7
16
-9
8
14
Mabeoana
12
1
3
8
5
16
-11
6