Setsoto Stadium hosts the country’s premier knockout tournament this weekend, as Matlama, LCS, Bantu and Likhopo lock horns in the LNIG Top8 semis and final.
The football feast starts on Saturday when Likhopo face Bantu in the first semi-final, with Matlama and LCS doing battle later in the day, while the winners of the two contests faceoff on Sunday in the final.
What makes this a truly special weekend is all the four teams have been playing well of late, hence fans’ expectations of top-class football.
Last Saturday, Bantu won 4-1 at home against Likila United, while LCS hammered Qoaling Highlanders 6-0, with Likhopo drawing one-all versus Nyenye Rovers and Matlama also settling for a 1-1 stalemate against Lioli in the Vodacom Premier League campaign.
For Matlama, I believe the Top8 tournament has come at the right time because spirits are very high in camp after coming from a goal down to force a draw against the in-form Lioli.
Tse Nala had scored 12 goals in their previous two matches, trouncing Qoaling Highlanders and LMPS 5-0 and 7-0 respectively, so I think Matlama did a great job in keeping Lioli’s attacking force at bay on Sunday.
Domestic matches don’t come any bigger than the Lioli/Matlama clash, so Tse Putsoa players must have been motivated by Sunday’s draw against their arch-rivals who are currently leading the 14-team premier league table by five points, and with just six fixtures to go.
Matlama also have a decent squad and January’s signing of Mabuti Potloane from Linare, and the recent return of former captain, Nkau Lerotholi, from South African division one side United FC, have made the team one of the strongest in the topflight league.
However, LCS are also a formidable side with a healthy balance of young and experienced players, and I rate Thabo Seakhoa highly in that Masheshena team. The young striker is only in his second season of topflight football and has been doing extremely well.
On Sunday, Seakhoa scored a hat-trick against Highlanders to take his goals tally to ten this season, which is a god return for the unassuming forward.
Ralekoti Mokhahlane, who recently returned to competitive football after being suspended by the Lesotho Football Association last year for alleged indiscipline, is also in fine form, and bagged a brace against Highlanders last weekend.
Surely this was also good preparation for Katiso Mojakhomo’s side and I expect their match against Matlama to be fiercely contested.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday last week, Likhopo and Bantu drew one-all in a league match in Mafeteng, and I expect their clash on Saturday to be equally entertaining.
A Matšo Matebele will, no doubt, look to Litšepe Marabe for salvation. The striker was on target in Bantu’s 4-1 win over Likila, which took his total to 16 league goals this campaign.
Of-course, Bantu, have a quality side with the likes of Hlompho Kalake also capable of winning the game for the team.
Likhopo also boast some of Lesotho’s finest players, among them Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana and Thapelo Tale.
And in Mothoana, Likhopo have a complete player who is also a dead-ball specialist and when injury free, poses danger to any team.
The same goes for Tale, who is one of the best strikers in this country and he will be highly motivated after scoring against Bantu last week.
I might not be too sure of the outcome of the tournament, but one thing I know is we are going to have new LNIG Top8 champions this year after title-holders Lioli were knocked out by LCS in the quarterfinals.
Good luck to all the four teams taking part in this tournament and hope to see the Mountain Kingdom’s finest talent on display at the weekend.