The season’s winners & losers

The season’s winners & losers

MASERU-Last week the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) said it was ending the 2019/20 football season and declared Bantu as champions.
The announcement put an end to speculation over what would happen to the campaign and it also means LEFA and the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) have finally swallowed their pride for the benefit of the sport.

In the weeks leading up to the announcement the organisations had exchanged blows in a power struggle in the media with one saying one thing and the other saying they had the last say on how the 2019/20 COVID-19 impacted season would conclude.
Almost everything LEFA announced was expected and there were no shocks.

The main sponsors of the league, Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL), will pay full prize monies to the clubs and as usual the money will differ depending on the clubs’ respective log standings.
The current log standings are final. There will also be no relegations from the Premier League or A-Division and the two teams currently leading the South and North Stream in the first division will be promoted to the Premier League.

The decision means the top-flight will have 16 teams starting next season.
Now that the season is officially over, there are losers and the winners from the campaign. Let’s look who are the beneficiaries of the decision and who are the losers.

WINNERS

Swallows
Bantu will get the league trophy and the most money, but the biggest winners this season are Swallows who again survive relegation in unexpected fashion. The Mazenod side have been by far the worst team in the league for the whole season. No team has lost more games than them and they have conceded more goals than any other side.

Last season Swallows survived the chop on the last day of the season with a 1-0 victory over Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS). They were destined to go back to A Division this season if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t struck and forced all sporting events to be put on ice. Because of a pandemic Swallows will still be in the Premier League next season, they clearly have nine lives.

A few months ago, one of Swallows’ executive committee members insisted they are not worried about getting relegated, he said they would survive the axe the same way they did last season.
Only Swallows know how they survived. Now with 16 teams set to compete in the league going forward, Swallows have a chance to sort themselves out and maybe stay in the Premier League even longer.

Lijabatho
In the Premier League every season two teams are destined to be axed automatically, there are no play-offs. There were no doubts Swallows were going down, but the conversation was over who was going with them. While Sefotha-fotha weren’t totally in the clear as far as relegation is concerned, there was overwhelming belief that Lijabatho would be Swallows’ companions.  Now they are home and dry and they can start planning for next season

However, after their dismal performances this season, Lijabatho have to step up to plate because the upcoming season is not going to be any easier, there will be more games to play and if they need a better squad.

Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) deserve an honourable mention as they will finish in the top four.
In recent seasons LMPS have been consistently finishing in the top eight places but not in the top four and now they have an extra cup to fight for.

Bantu
With or without COVID-19 disruptions, Bantu were just one step away to being confirmed as the league champions, it was a matter of if, not when. The conversation was never about if Bantu would win the league, however, it was always about whether they could go the whole season unbeaten.

Although head coach Bob Mafoso always brushed the suggestion aside it never stopped the fans from dreaming. With the decision to end the league it means the season has been played, and in all the games that have been played Bantu are yet to lose a game, they have only dropped four points all season and both games were against second placed Matlama.

Celebrations continue in Mafeteng and it is a well-deserved league title. ‘A Matšo Matebele’ have been by far the best team in the league and now they are going back to CAF Champions League where they made history last year by progressing past the first stage. Bantu were just an inch away from the group stages but they were dumped to the CAF Confederations Cup by AS Vita.
Losers

Lioli
Once again, Teyateyaneng club will not be contesting the Independence Cup as their slow start in the league has come back to bite them.
Before the pandemic it looked as if they would be able to catch up to LMPS as they were only three points behind and missing out on fourth place will hurt.

Not finishing in the Top 4 means they are missing out on another trophy without even contesting for it and Lioli are arguably the biggest losers at this point. Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) is consistent Top 8 finisher and their league position does not shock anyone, but for Lioli it is hard one for their supporters.

Kick4Life
They deserve to be ninth on the log, they have been so bad all season, six wins in 19 games is not good enough. One could argue they were bound to struggle because of the changes they made to their technical team. Kick4Life lost their head coach Bob Mafoso to Bantu and had to bring Katiso Mojakhomo on a one year deal just before the season began. Mojakhomo never had time to prepare the team and didn’t have the chance to sign his own players.

Regardless of any of that, the club just never looked convincing under him and watching from the stands it was difficult to figure out what he was trying to do. He never had solutions to when things were going wrong and every time they lost he blamed the players. Mojakhomo and Kick4Life were mismatched.

The club however picked up momentum after Mojakhomo was demoted and replaced by Paul Westren. They were perhaps one of the teams that were on form before the pandemic and one wonders where they would be if football didn’t stop. Unfortunately for them, finishing outside the Top 8 is not good enough.

Tlalane Phahla

Previous Matlama’s Potloane to extend deal
Next Sports Commission to meet ministry

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