MASERU — A week is a long time in football.
Trudging off the field after a 3-1 mauling at the hands of Lioli a fortnight ago, defending Premier League champions LCS looked down and out of the title race.
Lioli remained on course in their pursuit of run-away leaders LDF — and the army side looked dead certain for the championship after a 2-1 win over LMPS.
A week later the picture, though not spectacularly, is different.
LDF are still in pole position to capture the Premier League crown, Lioli still are their closest rivals and LCS are still third.
What has changed though is the whiff of confidence now seeping from LCS’s headquarters and the questions that have been raised by LDF’s first league defeat in 15 games — their first of 2009.
Questions were not being asked of LDF before they took the field against Joy in Hlotse on Sunday.
But 90 minutes later Joy had won 1-0 — the LDF juggernaut not as unstoppable as perceived.
At Ratjomose, another shock — although to a much lesser degree — was in progress.
Second-placed Lioli were held to a goalless draw by LMPS.
The effects of Nkosi Tshabalala’s goal for Joy or Lioli’s wasted chances are yet to be established but it’s clear that LCS are right back in the title mix.
LCS’s hard-fought 1-0 win in Mazenod over Swallows on Sunday means they are four points off the top.
And though they have played more games than both their rivals, Masheshena have an outside chance of winning a third successive title.
This Easter weekend will be critical not only for the title contenders but the entire league.
There’s an overdose of Premier League football this weekend — in total 17 league fixtures will be played around the country in three days.
It’s a weekend of particular importance to LDF.
As with the rest of the league, the army side play two games in two days.
Fortunately their first, on Friday, should be a walkover.
They take on Sekamaneng Young Stars, a side that has re-defined the art of losing.
Their 2-1 defeat to Lerotholi on Sunday was the 16th in succession in what has been a shambolic season.
Nonetheless, LDF assistant coach Motheo Mohapi is cautious.
“These are the games that I hate. Everybody expects a walkover,” he told the Lesotho Times this week.
“The game against Joy was a wake-up call.
“This game is coming at the right time. If this match was coming after a winning streak then it would have been more dangerous to us.
“But now the players know they can’t slip up.”
LDF will then have to focus on a tricky away game to Likhopo on Sunday.
“Every game now is a tough one. Every team is playing for something, whether it is fighting relegation, looking to get in the top eight or top four, or to win the league,” Mohapi said.
“Likhopo will be desperate for the three points because they are fighting for a top-four finish. We are fighting for the league.”
Second-placed Lioli will look to take advantage of any slip-up by LDF.
Lioli coach Mosholi Mokhothu urged his team to focus on the task at hand, starting with winning their two Easter games against Linare at home tomorrow and away to Rovers on Sunday.
“Right now we are not going to be thinking about other teams,” he said.
“We can’t afford to lose any games from now to the end of the season.
“On Friday we are going to beat Linare and on Sunday we are going to beat Rovers.
“If we win all our games we will be champions.”
Defending champions LCS will hope that doesn’t happen. They play Majantja on Saturday before facing Lerotholi the following day with the spring back in their step.
“If you look at the league now, if we win all our games, then anything can still happen,” LCS coach Katiso Mojakhomo said.
“We will fight until the last day. Every match we are playing, we are going for a win.”
Mojakhomo is relishing the challenge and pressure of doing the chasing instead of being the chased.
“When we won the league in 2007 we were the ones who were chasing. This is nothing new to us,” he said.
Tomorrow: Lioli vs Linare, Lerotholi vs Rovers , LDF vs Sekamaneng Young Stars, Naughty Boys vs Butha-Buthe Roses, LCS vs Majantja , Matlama vs Likhopo, Swallows vs Mphatlalatsane, Joy vs LMPS.
Sunday: Likhopo vs LDF , Matlama vs LMPS, Linare vs Majantja, Mphatlalatsane vs Naughty Boys, Sekamaneng Young Stars vs Joy, Rovers vs Lioli, Lerotholi vs LCS.
Monday: Butha-Buthe Roses vs Swallows, Rovers vs LDF.