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LDF hunt Bantu in title race



MASERU – With 12 matches to go, the Vodacom Premier League title is starting to heat up as only three points separate the top two teams.

Just two months ago it seemed as if Bantu would run away with the title, but an incredible eight-match winning streak by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has put them just three points behind Bantu.

‘A Matšo Matabele’ have also dropped costly points in a pair of goalless draws against Lioli in their last five games.

Those slips have allowed LDF to suddenly pile the pressure on the Mafeteng giants.

Despite the hiccups, Bantu have shown they are capable of putting a good run together but any further slip-ups could be catastrophic for their ambitions of winning the championship in Abram Mongoya’s debut season.

On the other hand, while football lovers are patting LDF on the back and hoping they can push Bantu all the way, there are worries whether they can keep their house in order.

Very often after games this season, LDF head coach Motheo Mohapi has complained about individualism on the pitch from his players.

Their squad depth is also a great concern and an injury to Tšepo Toloane before Christmas saw LDF limping to finish off games and, at times, struggling to create chances.

Not only is the Lesotho international midfielder a leader and a reliable ball carrier that can open up defences, he is also deadly on set-pieces.

Interestingly, Bantu and LDF do not play each other until March 18 and by then the table could be looking different.

Last weekend, Bantu had to sweat for their 1-0 victory over 13th-placed Galaxy who are fighting to stay alive in the top-flight.

It doesn’t get easier for Bantu this weekend as Mongoya’s charges prepare for a battle with seventh-placed Machokha who have been this season’s surprise package.

Machokha, who are in their debut premiership season, held Lioli to a 1-1 draw over the weekend and if they can get a result against the log leaders, it would be another sensational day at the office for the new boys.

LDF, on the other hand, will be looking to inflict revenge on Manonyane after losing 3-1 to the Roma side in the first round.

Manonyane head coach Mosholi Mokhothu will have to come up with another master plan if he is to stop the ‘Sohle-Sohle’ juggernaut. LDF have the best home record in the league and are yet to lose a game at Ha Ratjomose.

Of the ten games they have played at their fortress, LDF have won seven and drawn three. Every other team in the league has lost at least once at home.

Mokhothu said Manonyane will approach the game differently to how they did in the first encounter.

Mokhothu said Manonyane were struggling to pick up points at the time and he had to revert to defensive style against LDF but the Roma side are now starting to transition into a more attacking philosophy.

The experienced tactician said Manonyane are also introducing new players into their style of play.

“We were losing in the first round and we thought we should play defensively and be tough to break down, and it worked. But we are introducing another way.

Tactically the players were growing, but we don’t want them to get used to being defensive only. We have to switch from defence to attack,” Mokhothu explained.

“We are introducing players because we lost a few players, they need to get used to the way we play. We signed six players from development because that is where we get players,” he said.

Weekend Fixtures:
Saturday (16:00):
Lijabatho vs. Liphakoe (Morija)
Swallows vs. LMPS (TBA)
Machokha vs. Bantu (LCS Ground)
Linare vs. LCS (DIFA Leribe)

CCX vs. Naughty Boys (LCA)
Matlama vs. Galaxy (LCS Ground)
Lioli vs. Lifofane (Teyateyaneng)
LDF vs. Manonyane (LDF Ground)

Tlalane Phahla

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