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Premier league resumes



Luciah Phahla

Maseru – The Vodacom Premier League returns this weekend and the battle for the coveted championship begins.

All through the winter clubs have been busy in the transfer market strengthening their squads. The pre-season also offered clubs and coaches ample time to examine themselves and correct mistakes ahead of the new season.

In the midst of it all, friendly matches were used to test combinations and try different tactics.

Now, with the start of the season here, it is time see what the coaches have been busy with and which clubs have done the best business in the transfer market.

Bantu are one team that has caught the eye with the changes to their set-up all the way from the technical staff to the players.

‘A Matšo Matebele’ have roped in a foreign coach in South African James Madidilane and are clearly intent on reclaiming their position amongst the top teams in the country after they endured what could only be described as a 2015/16 season to forget.

Champions Lioli have also made solid signings and the club’s communication and marketing manager Tšeliso Lerata is confident his side will defend both their league and Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 crowns.

‘Tse Nala’, of course, will also be looking to impress in the CAF Champions League showpiece next year.

And although Lioli will be without the services of former skipper Basia Makepe who has left for Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), the Teyateyaneng giants still boast Lesotho’s strongest squad, boosted further by the signing of Lesotho international striker Thapelo Tale.

The first glimpse of this projected Lioli machine will be on Saturday against LMPS at Setsoto Stadium.

“I think we have prepared enough for this season,” Lerata told thepost on Tuesday. “I think we had a great pre-season and we are good shape. We have no injuries luckily, and everyone is available for selection on Saturday. We are ready for LMPS.”

He continued: “We have a large pool of players and, given the kind of players we have, I have no doubt we will defend both our titles both because that’s what we want. However, to do that we have to do two things: give respect to other premier league teams because they deserve it and to focus on one game at a time.”

Matlama, Sundawana, Likhopo as well as Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) should present tough competition for Lioli and Bantu.

‘Tse Putsoa’ were league runners up last season and will be looking to start where they left off when they travel to face Butha-Buthe Warriors on Sunday.

However, if Matlama’s underwhelming preseason is anything to go by, they could be in for another dry season.

Another side to watch is Kick4Life. After an impressive 2015/16 season under the guidance of the experienced Leslie Notši, the Old Europa should not be counted out when it comes to upsetting the applecart.

The departures of ‘Mako Makoanyane and Lesia Thetsane, who were marvellous for the Old Europa side last season, could have hurt, however, Kick4Life have wisely opted for seasoned campaigners with Bokang Mothoana from Likhopo being their marquee signing.

Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and last season’s survivors Rovers, Linare and Liphakoe, meanwhile, appear likely to form this season’s lower half of the table alongside new comers Sky Battalion and Butha-Buthe Warriors.

Weekend Vodacom Premier League fixtures:

Saturday, 27 August

Lioli v LMPS (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)

Kick4Life v Likhopo (15:00, Maseru)

Linare v Sky Battalion (15:00, Maputsoe DiFA Stadium)

Sunday, 28 August

LDF v Sundawana (15:00, Ratjomose)

Bantu v Rovers (15:00, Mafeteng)

Liphakoe v LCS (15:00, Quthing)

Butha-Buthe Warriors v Matlama (15:00, Butha-Buthe)

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