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Perfect start for LDF Ladies



MASERU – When Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies and Kick4Life Ladies were pitted against each other in the semi-finals of last weekend’s Women Super League (WSL) Top 4, many thought it was a match worthy of the final.

The two are heavyweights of women’s football in the country and sparks always fly when they meet – even a pre-season outing is a chance for them to get one over the other.

The edge in the sides’ recent meetings had been with LDF and when the teams met last Saturday at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena, the army side proved why they are queens of the WSL as they got the better of their rivals once more.

Kick4Life, who went into the season curtain-raiser hoping to make a statement, started the semi-final tie well and briefly looked like they would open the scoring but their indecisiveness in front of goals denied them the fast start they craved.

They were duly punished when Lesotho international striker Ntšabeng Pelea gave LDF the lead, and although Morakane Mokhothu levelled matters for Kick4Life in the 32nd minute, Kholu

Lebakeng put the league champions in front again three minutes later and LDF took control of the game from there.

The second half is where LDF really showed their dominance – ‘Maseriti Mohlolo grabbed a brace while the hardworking Nthabeleng Potsane also got on the scoresheet to complete a perfect day for Lengana Nkhethoa’s charges.

Seipati Tlali did score a late consolation for Kick4Life with three minutes to go to make the score-line a more respectable 5-2 margin, but, in truth, it was a hammering.

In the day’s other semi-final, Stoko overcame Basetsana which meant they would face LDF in Sunday’s final and many supporters left the grounds questioning how Stoko would do if Kick4Life were so comprehensively beaten.

Others were simply praying they would wake up to a miraculous win for Stoko the following day.

As is often the case with a team as dominant as LDF who have won the last four league titles, they are loved by their supporters but everyone else seems to want them to lose for their own different reasons.

Some believe an emergence of a team to stop the army side’s dominance would be good for women’s football while others may just be jealous of LDF’s continued success.

Whatever the case, LDF faced a different challenge in the final because while Saturday’s semis were open, Sunday’s final was a cagey affair.

It appeared Stoko felt they would not stand a chance if they went toe-to-toe with LDF as Kick4Life did and they took the opposite approach, parking players behind the ball.

Their plan was to pack the middle of the field and deny the champions space to play through the centre of the pitch but the plan only worked briefly before LDF figured it out and created all four of their goals through their wide players.

Phuzile Molefe, Mohlolo and Potsane, who scored a brace, fired LDF to the championship with well taken goals with three of them coming in the first half.

Even with a four-goal lead, Nkhethoa was still standing on the touchline shouting at his players to get more goals.

Speaking during a post-match interview with thepost, the LDF coach felt that they could have scored more despite running out 4-0 winners.

“I still think we could have scored more given the things we did,” Nkhethoa said.

“We worked a lot on finishing and combining with our passes. I can say they did 80 percent of what we worked on, it’s just that they sometimes lack confidence. They get to the box but when they get there, they forget that once you are in the box you are a king, even a penalty you can get it,” he said.

Nkhethoa said Stoko posed a slightly different challenge to Kick4Life but the champions adapted.

“The only difference is that Kick4Life has speedy players upfront but Stoko played with one striker who could be dangerous if not marked,” Nkhethoa said.

“They were very compact. I think they read our game that if they allow us inside it’s dangerous but anyway, we saw their plan and we decided to play crosses behind them,” he continued.

Nkhethoa, who played for the LDF men’s team before transitioning to coaching after retirement, said the WSL Top 4 gave his side a solid base ahead of the league season which starts next month.

The LDF mentor said the champions aim to win three points from every game they play and that is all he can promise the fans.

LDF certainly showed they have the deepest squad, just last month the 12 players in the Lesotho squad at the COSAFA Women’s Championship, by far the most of any club.

And after the weekend’s display, everybody is on notice that LDF mean business and their rivals are already scratching their heads as to how to stop them.

Kick4Life head coach Elizabeth Yelimala said her side will take the positives forward to work on themselves to be ready for the new season.

For Stoko and Basetsana, meanwhile, it is back to the drawing board to improve their performances and their finishing.

They also have to try to get more game-time.

When Stoko beat Basetsana in the semi-finals it was their first match since the WSL season ended in May where they finished third behind LDF and Kick4Life.

Stoko head coach Paul Setoko said his players started training a week before the WSL Top 4 because they were scattered all over but he insisted he saw positives because his side gave LDF a run for their money.

“We didn’t train but if a team like LDF was frustrated for 90 minutes I think we just need to go back and work on our strengths,” Setoko said.

“Time is not on our side because the players go to school, some are working but I am not worried, we are going into the league.”

Stoko and everyone else has one month to prepare. LDF will once again be the team to beat.

Individual Awards
Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Mpolokeng Mothomotšoana (LDF Ladies)
Player and Top Scorer of the Tournament – Nthabeleng Potsane (LDF Ladies)
Coach of the Tournament – Lengana Nkhethoa (LDF Ladies)

Tlalane Phahla

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