|Bantu... Title favourites?|
The Vodacom Premier League finally kicked off this weekend after months of waiting.
This 2012/13 season has the potential to be the most intriguing in recent memory with several teams holding realistic hopes of claiming Lesotho’s top football prize.
One of these contenders is Lioli and they got the ball rolling with a fine win over LMPS on Saturday. It was a consummate display by Tse Nala that saw youth product Tšepo Seturumane grab both goals in a 2-0 win for the 2009 champions over their hoodoo team.
Nine-time champions Matlama also got their season off to winning start with a 2-0 victory over Qoaling Highlanders on Sunday. The match was played at the LCS Stadium not in Qoaling. The inability to consistently use their home ground could turn out to be a serious impediment for newly-promoted Highlanders this season. Qoaling has been a fortress crucial to a meteoric rise that has seen Wright Mofoka’s team achieve two promotions in the past three years.
For Tse Putsoa it was needed tonic after a pre-season of uncertainty. Matlama sold established stars Dlhomo Monapathi, Thapelo Mokhehle (both to Bantu), Hlomelang Theko, Tšeliso Ramathe (to Highlanders) and Pali Tšalong (to Linare) during the off-season raising doubts over their credentials.
Also on Sunday, defending champions LCS were held to a 2-2 draw by a plucky Joy side in Hlotse. Masheshena have had troubles on their travels in recent seasons and last season only won three of their 11 games away from home. Indeed LCS’s 20111/12 championship triumph was largely down to their spectacular home record which saw them collect 30 points from a possible 33.
Elsewhere, perennial contenders LDF brushed aside Mpharane Celtic 3-0. Sohle-Sohle have finished second to LCS in the past two seasons and in the top three in each of the last seven seasons. However, LDF are without a title victory since 2004 and are desperate to break that duck this term.
In Hlotse, Likhopo overcame Linare 2-0 in a clash of two teams harbouring title ambitions. Two-time champions Likhopo have been the story of the pre-season thanks their million maloti sponsorship with the Matekane Group of Companies. Linare have made waves themselves with the signing of Tšalong from Matlama for a record M12 500, a sign of their intent.
The team that everybody is watching this season though is Bantu and they got off to a comfortable enough start with a 2-0 win over newly-promoted Nyenye Rovers in Maputsoe. A Matšo Matebele have been touted by many as the favourites for the title after a pre-season that has seen them sign a host of stars including a M20 000 deal for Mokhehle and Monapathi and the capture of Litšepe Marabe from Botswana’s Flamengo Santos. Bantu have also added recently retired Lesotho legend Lehlohonolo Seema to their technical team.
Opening weekend results
Saturday, 8 September
Lioli 2-0 LMPS
Sunday, 9 September
Mpharane Celtic 0-3 LDF, Joy 2-2 LCS, Linare 0-2 Likhopo, Nyenye Rovers 0-2 Bantu, Qoaling Highlanders 0-2 Matlama