Fans in for an exciting finale

Fans in for an exciting finale

MASERU -We could be in for an exciting grand finale of the 2018/19 Econet Premier League season after Bantu’s do-or-die 2-1 win over Matlama last Saturday.
There are two games left in the season and there is still everything to play for in the title race.
Log leaders Matlama, on 56 points, could have wrapped the title with a win on Saturday but the defeat means Bantu, with 54 points, live to fight another day.
It is quite a turn of events.

It is only a few weeks ago that Bantu coach James Madidilane was declaring the title in Matlama’s hands. Now the two sides are separated by two points.
On paper ‘Tse Putsoa’ still have no reason to panic and they still remain favourites.
Matlama’s run of games is easier compared to Bantu’s who have to negotiate another bitter rival when they face Lioli this Saturday at Setsoto Stadium.
It is a match that could define the season.

Lioli are in fifth place and are looking to save their season by at least sealing a top four spot so they can defend their Independence Cup crown next term.
It means ‘Tse Nala’ could end up playing a pivotal role in the title race which makes Saturday’s game that more difficult to call.
Although Lioli are not in a good form right now – they are winless in four games – whenever ‘Tse Nala’ and ‘A Matšo Matebele’ meet form goes out of the window because both teams are so desperate for bragging rights over their rivals.

It will be a huge game for Bantu who have to keep on winning while praying Matlama slip up.
The Mafeteng giants know a defeat to Lioli would end any hopes of defending their league crown and winning the title for a third successive time.
Regardless of what happens, Bantu should end the campaign proud of their performance this season.

The pressure of being champions was always going to be intense and it was even greater because they were going for a third championship in a row.
Madidilane’s side struggled to get going at the beginning of the season and it looked as if they would not be able to defend their title.
However, Bantu managed to drag themselves back into the title picture despite playing more games than any other team in the league because of their participation in two CAF competitions.
The squad that Madidilane has built has matured into a resilient outfit. Bantu are like a family, the players play for one another and they do not give up until the game is over.
Bantu made Lesotho proud earlier this season by progressing past the preliminary stage of the CAF Champions League becoming the first Lesotho team since 2001 to make it to the first round of the continental competition.

Players such as Lindokuhle Phungulwa have become important players for Madidilane.
Signed in 2017, the midfielder has blossomed this season and has become a vital piece for the Mafeteng giants with his creativity and goals from midfield.
Bantu have also benefited from keeping the core of their previous two championship-winning teams. Although they lost Peter Maloisane to South Africa’s Bloemfontein Celtic last September, other players have been able to come in and fill his shoes.
It means when Bantu face Lioli they will know what to expect and what to do in the high-stakes game.
Lioli drew first blood in the first round when the sides met and now the stakes are even higher. Not only are Bantu looking for revenge last September’s 1-0 loss, they could also end Lioli’s top four hopes.

This is a game not to be missed and it has got everyone talking.
It is part of a season that has been one of the best in recent memory and whoever wins the league crown between Matlama and Bantu would be a worthy champion.
Of course, it would be nice to have new champions and split the duopoly between Lioli and Bantu who have won the last five league titles.
If Matlama are able to hold on to their lead they will end their 10-year league drought and they would re-enter the conversation as Lesotho’s leading club.

It will also mean Champions League football next season and, for the most part, ‘Tse Putsoa’ have looked like champions in what is Thabile Secker’s first season in charge.
Matlama have been the league’s most consistent side and have now led the standings since the end of February.
Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Many supporters of different clubs have confessed they would prefer Matlama to win the Econet Premier League title.
Ultimately, one cannot deny Secker’s charges have worked hard for the title and if they lose it they may never come this close to winning the league again.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter who will conquer the Econet Premier League; we are enjoying every minute of it.

Tlalane Phahla

 

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