Race for top four heats up

Race for top four heats up

Maseru – With Kick4Life, Bantu and Lioli fiercely battling it out for the Vodacom Premier League title, the race for the top four has received less attention.
However, there is plenty at stake below the big three and pressure is mounting on fourth-placed Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) to keep their spot until the end of the season.
LCS’s spot is the only one that remains available in the top four and five teams are fighting for it.

‘Masheshena’, premier league new boys Sky Battalion, Lesotho Mounted Police Service, Matlama and even eighth-placed Sundawana still have a chance to book a place in the top four.
The five teams are separated by just three points.

A potentially pivotal game in this race takes place on Saturday at the LCS grounds as Matlama take on LCS.
‘Masheshena’ are fourth on the log with 28 points from 16 games while ‘Tse Putsoa’ find themselves in seventh position with 25 points after 17 outings.
Whenever the two teams meet the result is usually decided by which side wins the tactical battle.

A win for Matlama would be a huge step towards the top four which may well be their only remaining prize this season.
The league title is obviously out of reach while ‘Tse Putsoa’ have a mountain to climb if they are to overcome a 2-1 deficit to Bantu in Mafeteng in the Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 quarterfinals.

It is a disappointing return after Matlama’s strong performance last season in which they came within a point of winning the league title although ‘Tse Putsoa’ could have perhaps been higher in the standings had they not been docked three points in the first round thanks to their unruly supporters.
An inconsistent season is demonstrated by the fact Matlama are on their second coach of the campaign.

In December the club roped in former Lesotho caretaker coach Seephephe Matete to steer the ship until the end of the season after Moses Maliehe left to take charge of Likuena.
Matete promptly admitted Matlama will not win the league this season, however, a spirited 2-2 draw with red hot Bantu kept ‘Tse Putsoa’ on Sunday will have raised hope they can finish the season strongly.

Matlama’s next three games, however, could be defining for them and if they fail to collect maximum points they might miss out on the lucrative top four positions.
Matlama’s next three games:
vs. LCS (home)
vs. Sundawana (away)
vs. Likhopo (home)

The first of those games, against LCS on Saturday, will not be a walk in the park.  Apart from the top three, ‘Masheshena’ have been the league’s most well-organised unit and it is only inconsistency that has eliminated them from the title race.

Of the other top four chasing teams, Sky Battalion are the darkest horse because they have nothing to lose. ‘SK’ are playing with no pressure having secured survival from chop in their debut premier league season.

After a fine first round, Sky Battalion are fifth, one point behind LCS, proving that a strong start is always a winner.

Weekend Vodacom Premier League fixtures:
Saturday
LDF vs. LMPS (Ratjomose)
Matlama vs. LCS (LCS Ground)
Sky Battalion vs. Butha-Buthe Warriors (Maseru)
Sunday
Linare vs. Bantu (15:00, Maputsoe DiFA Stadium)
Kick4Life vs. Liphakoe (13:00, LCS Ground)
Likhopo vs. Sundawana (15:00, LCS Ground)
Lioli vs. Rovers (postponed)

Luciah Phahla

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