MASERU – On a weekend where women were celebrated the world over, the men were being separated from the boys in the MGC Supa 8 quarter-finals at LCS’s central prisons.
Now two weeks after the kickoff of Lesotho’s opening football showpiece four teams are out. Four remain, just 180 minutes from M60 000.
Defending champions LCS are on a roll. On Saturday they bagged seven goals past Arsenal’s hapless Bohope Maboee. The final score 7-1. The aggregate score 14-2 – an MGC Supa 8 record.
To put things into perspective, LCS’s Pholo Mafatlane had opened the scoring after just 12 seconds – another record. And within 20 minutes it was 4-0.
“We want to win our games without dispute,” LCS coach Katiso Mojakhomo said afterwards. Certainly that is what his charges did, but it has to be noted too that their opponents were woeful. Not only were the first division outfit overawed, but they were unfit and toothless to boot.
“It was not a good display,” Arsenal coach Jeff Lebesa conceded afterwards. “We didn’t have enough time to prepare the team.”
On evidence of their performance Arsenal needed to play with two additional players as well.
The Gunners’ only threat came from lively substitute Khotso Matsepe, he got a consolation 78th minute goal; but by then it was way too late.
LCS will be joined by army side Lesotho Defence Force.
While LDF were uninspiring, their quest for redemption (and hard cash) continued on Saturday. Beaten finalists in the same tournament last year and robbed of the Premiership in May, the army men’s pain is still obvious.
LDF however can for the moment savour an away-goals rule victory over Bantu –– no matter how patchy or disjointed their display was.
All the pain will be felt in Mafeteng.
After the promise of their first-leg 2-2 performance, Bantu’s 0-0 showing in the return was the weakest of surrenders.
With Bantu needing to score to stand any chance of progression, an alert attacking display was promised by their coach Kabelo Ramulula. But that never happened. In fact it was LDF who, despite their noticeable defensive preference, were the more purposeful side.
The soldiers’ change from their traditional 4-3-3 formation used in Matsieng to 3-5-2 was significant. The shift saw the experienced Malefetsane Pheko switch from an attacking role to sweeper where he controlled the game defensively and offensively.
More decisively the adjustment in set-up allowed the army side to govern the flanks. LDF’s wide dominance gained through their wingbacks stifled the attacking threat of Bantu’s wide-men, especially Tšepo Makhakhe – Matsieng’s star performer.
In midfield Moses Ramafole and Masela Mangana, superior two weeks ago, were out-manned on Saturday while Bantu’s fullbacks, willing foragers in Matsieng, were mere gardeners.
All LDF needed to do was consolidate their position, and that is what they did. Bantu despite their need for a goal only managed one note-worthy attempt all 90 minutes.
In truth it was a 90 minutes of poor, unwatchable football – but LDF didn’t care, nor did they have to. All the questions and rumblings would come from Mafeteng’s bars.
At the Ratjomose barracks LDF coach Motheo Mohapi and his troops would be saluted for a job well done.
“Our aim was to qualify and we achieved that,” Mohapi said after the game. “We weren’t here to show that we could play football. I’m happy with the victory, we now can focus on the next round.”
The tie of the quarter-final stage has been between Lioli and Nyenye Rovers – the clash of Lesotho’s champions and Nyenye’s Tycoons.
As in their first-leg tie in Butha-Buthe, Sunday’s return fixture didn’t disappoint, both sides contributing to an entertaining game which saw big-money Lioli signing Seenyane Nthejane score on his debut in a 3-1 win for “Tse Nala”.
Lioli went through 5-2 on aggregate.
LMPS complete the semi-final line-up. In the last of the weekend’s quarter-final ties Simunye beat Butha-Buthe Fast XI 5-0. The score-line might have been more, LMPS hit the woodwork twice. Even so, LMPS still haven’t conceded a goal, scoring nine – so far so good.
And with thrills and spills galore it’s definitely so far so good for MGC Supa 8 tournament too.
LDF 0-0 Bantu (2-2 on aggregate. LDF win on away goals rule)
LCS 7-1 Arsenal (LCS win 14-2 on aggregate)
Lioli 3-1 Nyenye Rovers (Lioli win 5-2 on aggregate)
LMPS 5-0 Butha-Buthe Fast XI (LMPS win 9-0 on aggregate)