MASERU — The 2010 Vodacom Soccer Spectacular bonanza kicks off this weekend with the race for the M360 000 winners’ cheque set to be a fierce one.
The first round of the eight-team tournament will be played on a home-and-away basis and the away goals rule will be employed.
On Saturday, Mokhotlong LMPS will host defending champions Matlama in what is arguably the first division side’s biggest match in history.
In the capital, Likhopo and Bantu, two of the tournament favourites, will clash at Central Prisons.
On Sunday there is another double bill of action.
Butha-Buthe Fast XI, who amassed the most votes in the fight for a place in the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular finals, will look to spring another surprise when they host Linare at Likileng Pitso Ground.
Ratjomose, meanwhile, will see a rematch from the 2008 edition when Premiership leaders LDF host first division outfit Maseru Naughty Boys.
Likhopo have made a positive start to the 2010/11 season and go into the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular as arguably the form side.
They also enjoyed a good pre-season, outclassing Swaziland Defence Force at Ratjomose and battling well with South Africa Premier Soccer League outfit Free State Stars.
The only question mark over Likhopo is the temperament of their young gems.
Bantu are unbeaten in the Vodacom Premier League this season.
Unfortunately, A Matšo Matebele meet arguably the best prepared side in this year’s tournament in the shape of Likhopo.
Bantu however have quality in all positions and if they can squeeze a favourable result in Maseru on Saturday their fanatic support in Mafeteng could carry them through to the semi-finals and beyond.
Mokhotlong LMPS are an unknown quantity and first division spokesman Mosebo Motsoasele says they are “on and off” and “consistent”.
Nonetheless their league form this season has not been bad.
The Mokhotlong side recovered from an opening-day 3-0 thumping at the hands of Butha-Buthe Fast XI to beat Butha-Buthe Warriors and Nyenye Rovers in their next two matches.
They will face Matlama with confidence.
Matlama don’t look like the same side which claimed an historic league and cup double last season.
Tse Putsoa have flattered to deceive this term, winning just twice – 3-2 over Mphatlalatsane in the league and 2-0 against LMPS in the Independence Cup — in seven matches in all competitions this season.
Although it is said top sides perform when it really matters, form isn’t a tap that can be turned on and off at will.
Butha-Buthe Fast XI
Butha-Buthe Fast XI have made a good start to their A Division season, walloping fellow finalists Mokhotlong LMPS 3-0, Qalo 3-1 before drawing 1-1 against Butha-Buthe Roses.
As is the tradition with Butha-Buthe teams, Fast XI are an attractive team to watch.
The question is whether they will have the goals to beat Linare.
Linare are unbeaten in the league, and making it into the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular finals for the first time shows there could be renewed life in Tse Tala as they seek to capture their first major trophy since 1999.
Linare will fancy their chances of progressing past Butha-Buthe Fast XI in the quarterfinals but their lack of big-game experience in recent years could count against them when it gets to the crunch.
As usual LDF have been solid if unspectacular and they are atop the Vodacom Premier League standings.
In Motheo Mohapi, Sohle-Sohle have one the country’s finest football brains and, in Mojela Letsie, the best striker in Lesotho at the moment.
In 2008 the soldiers were beaten in the final by LCS before losing at the semi-final stage to the same opponents last year.
With their nemesis missing from this year’s tournament this could be Sohle-Sohle’s best chance.
Maseru Naughty Boys
First division outfit Maseru Naughty Boys are making their second appearance in the tournament after losing to LDF in 2008.
Naughty Boys unfortunately don’t go into their revenge mission in the best form and are yet to pick up a win.
Naughty Boys lost 1-0 to Majantja and 2-0 to Qoaling Highlanders before registering their first point, and goal, in a 1-1 draw against Arsenal last time out.