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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lesotho Premier League reaches halfway mark

The Vodacom Premier League has reached its halfway stage. We scan through the contenders and pretenders, and throw in some predictions for good measure.

The Contenders

Bantu
Bantu have exploded in recent weeks. Since winning the Independence Cup in early October A Matšo Matebele have gelled and shot to the top of the league. Bantu started off sluggish losing two of their first three games. But since their Independence Cup triumph Bantu have won six of seven matches. A Matšo Matebele have also been helped by a 3-0 win over Matlama awarded to them by the league (Matlama failed to produce player cards ahead of a game between the two in September, causing its abandonment). The 3-0 win has boosted Bantu goal difference and is the reason the Mafeteng side are ahead of Lioli on the table. On the field, Litšepe Marabe has been in marvellous form recently scoring six goals in as many games. This added to a defence led by the experienced Tlali Maile and impressive squad depth makes Bantu a formidable foe.
Prediction: 1st
Will Lioli claim silverware this season?
Lioli
Lioli are firmly in the championship race and this is down to their amazing defensive record. Lioli have kept clean-sheets in eight of their 10 games this season. Tse Nala have conceded in only two games, unfortunately those are the only games in which Lioli have suffered defeat. Aside form those two blips (against LCS and Bantu) Tse Nala have shown genuine quality. The midfield axis of Bushy Moletsane, Tšoanelo Koetle and Motlalepula Mofolo has been the finest in the country this season. Lioli have also shared goals through the team with Mofolo, Tšepo Seturumane, Bafokeng Mosala all scoring twice or more. All these factors make a first title since 2009 a real possibility for Lioli.
Prediction: 2nd

LCS
LCS possess a quality squad and for this reason they remain a realistic bet for the title. In truth though, the defending champions have been well below par in the first half of the season. Still, the fact Masheshena is only three points behind the top two is testament to their ability to hang in and challenge. Nevertheless, there have been worrying signs that LCS’s squad may be ageing, a losing 3-0 thumping by LDF being a prime example. Masheshena have also been outplayed in defeats to title rivals Bantu and Linare. The Caf Champions League in January, where they have been drawn against Zimbabwe’s Dynamos, also presents a distraction LCS can ill-afford as they seek to keep up with pacesetters Bantu and Lioli.
Prediction: 3rd

The Outside Bets

LDF
Inconsistency is LDF’s biggest hindrance at the moment something very unusual for the army side, usually the model of consistency. This season Sohle-Sohle have produced the brilliant, such as a 3-0 win over LCS. However, too often LDF have followed brilliance up with a disappointing result, being held at home by new-boys Qoaling Highlanders for example. That form has seen Sohle-Sohle drop to six points behind the leading duo of Bantu and Lioli.
Prediction: 4th

LMPS
LMPS’s story is similar to that of LDF; inconsistency. But an even bigger setback for Simunye so far has been their slow start to the season. LMPS lost three and drew one of their opening four games which left them at the bottom. Simunye have embarked on an impressive run of form since, including a 4-0 thumping of Mpharane Celtic in their last match of the year. Nonetheless, LMPS have probably already left themselves too much to make up on the leaders.
Prediction: 5th

Linare
Linare have shown glimpses of what they can do, notably when beating champions LCS in Hlotse early last month. But their recent inconsistency and the form of the top two teams has seen Tse Tala’s title hopes begin to fade. A home loss to Qoaling Highlanders at the end of November was a real blow and dropped Linare back into the pack. Linare added the quality of Pali Tšalong to the creative qualities of Mabuti Potloane, but lingering questions over their support cast mean Tse Tala will have a tough time claiming the top prize.
Prediction: 6th
LDF and LMPS, stumbling in the title race
The Also-Rans

Matlama
Matlama have had a tumultuous time of it this season resulting in the departure of Halemakale Mahlaha, the first coaching casualty of the season. Tse Putsoa have since called on club legend Mahao “Bomba” Matete to try and steady the ship. He has a big job on his hands. Tse Putsoa are clearly still suffering from losing the spine of their team – Thapelo Mokhehle and Dlhomo Monapathi to Bantu, Koetle to Lioli and Tšalong to Linare. Still, Matlama have only played nine games and the end of year break could do them a world of good.
Prediction: 7th

Likhopo
Likhopo’s recent poor run of form has probably cost them their shot at the league title. Likhopo have lost four in a row, more similar to relegation form than to championship standards. However, considering the players at their disposal Likhopo will be looking to turn the ship around in the second round.
Prediction: 8th

Qoaling Highlanders
Newly-promoted Qoaling Highlanders have competed well this season and find themselves in the relative safety of ninth position in the league. Their Qoaling home ground has been fundamental. Highlanders have vociferous home support and it could be key to their survival efforts.
Prediction: 9th

Joy
Joy always get off to a good start and they did so again this season. Joy were near the top of the log after five rounds. But successive defeats have seen them plummet to eighth place in the table. Still, Joy have collected points well enough and relegation would be a surprise.
Prediction: 10th

Mpharane Celtic
Mpharane Celtic performed wonders by surviving their first campaign in the top-flight last season. In their second campaign Celtic are once again giving it a good go but a lack of quality has been brutally exposed on several occasions this season. For example, Celtic have the league’s worst defensive record having conceding a whopping 25 goals in only 10 games.
Prediction: 11th
Matlama are missing striker Dlhomo Monapathi
Nyenye Rovers
Things aren’t looking good for Nyenye Rovers. Only one win in their 11 games this season sees the newly-promoted Leribe side languishing at the foot of the table. It will be difficult task for Rovers to escape the clutches of relegation.
Prediction: 12th

Vodacom Premier League


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts
1
Bantu
10
7
1
2
21
11
10
22
2
Lioli
10
7
1
2
14
4
10
22
3
LCS
10
6
1
3
12
9
3
19
4
LDF
10
4
4
2
14
8
6
16
5
LMPS
11
5
1
5
9
8
1
16
6
Linare
9
3
3
3
10
7
3
12
7
Likhopo
11
4
0
7
8
11
-3
12
8
Joy
10
3
3
4
15
19
-4
12
9
Qoaling Highlanders
11
3
2
6
8
14
-6
11
10
Mpharane Celtic
10
3
2
5
16
25
-9
11
11
Matlama
9
3
1
5
11
15
-4
10
12
Nyenye Rovers
11
1
5
6
8
16
-8
8

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