The 2014/15 Premier League season gets underway this coming Saturday, with defending champions Bantu taking on newly-promoted Kick4Life in Maseru.
While clubs will continue to reinforce their squads until the end of this month when the transfer window closes, most of the teams have already pulled some major coups leading to the weekend’s opening matches.
However, all eyes will be on A Matšo Matebele, who have to defend their league championship and Top4 title, while the Mafeteng-based giants will also be campaigning in the 2014/15 African Champions League.
Bantu have not been that active on the transfer-market unlike in previous campaigns, and their major signing so far has been national team attacking midfielder, Litšepe Marabe.
The talented Marabe is making a return to the domestic league after an abortive move to Garankuwa United in the South African first division.
On his day, Marabe is a top player and has proved his pedigree time and again in national colours.
However, it has not been plain-sailing for Bantu during this offseason.
At some stage, league title-winning coach, Motlatsi Shale, boycotted the team’s friendly against South Africa’s Free State Stars as he pressed management for an improved contract.
Shale has since made peace with the club, but rumours continue to do the rounds that some of the team’s top players are not happy and want to leave for greener pastures at Sandawana FC.
Sandawana, formerly known as Mpharane Celtic, was recently purchased by traditional healer, Thato ‘Sandawana’ Nkone. The healer is said to be ready to spend big to lure Lesotho’s top players—among them those with Bantu.
Whether Bantu manage to hold on to their best players, we will have to wait and see.
However, Bantu have not been convincing in their pre-season matches, and lost to LCS last weekend in their final pre-season friendly.
It will also be very interesting to see if Shale can get the best out of his star-studded side again after leading them to a historic double last season.
Bantu’s bitter rivals, Lioli, on the other hand, have also not brought major changes to their squad, which was already full of quality players.
Tse Nala currently have nine players in the national team, Likuena, which started preparing for the group stage of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, on Monday this week.
On paper, Lioli have the best squad in the league and also boast of very highly experienced campaigners as eight of them started for Likuena in their last match against Kenya.
So the big challenge for Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu will be motivating his players to transfer their good form in national colours to their club.
Fatigue could be another problem for Tse Nala because most of their players have hardly had a break due to Likuena’s busy schedule which is set to continue next month.
The Teyateyaneng-based outfit have also added Likuena assistant coach, Halemakale Mahlaha, to their technical team and it will be very interesting to see if he can help Tse Nala wrestle back the league championship from Bantu.
While Bantu and Lioli have been the best two teams in the country over recent campaigns, Linare, Likhopo and Matlama have been very promising as we saw towards the end of last season.
These three teams, together with LCS, will surely give Bantu and Lioli a run for their money in the battle for silverware in the upcoming season.
Matlama may have lost their inspirational captain and one of the top defenders in the country, Nkau Lerotholi, who is leaving for Garankuwa United. However, the nine-time league champions made an equally good replacement in former national under-17 team captain, Tšeliso Ramathe, who joins from Qoaling Highlanders.
Tse Putsoa still have quality in their squad in the likes of Pali Tšalong and Phafa Tšosane.
FC Likhopo also have a fairly balanced squad consisting of a number of Likuena stars and it looks like the striking duo of Thapelo Tale and Lehlomela Ramabele, will be staying with the club as their moves to South Africa have stalled.
LCS also look revived under Katiso Mojakhomo and also have a very experienced squad, which includes Likuena captain Moitheri Ntobo and midfield maestro Ralekoti Mokhahlane.
Linare were also very solid last season and with Tse Tala having managed to retain last season’s Player of the Year, Mabuti Potloane, surely they will continue to grow in confidence as they aim to end the long drought for the league title.
The Hlotse-based team also have a good squad of players such as Moorosi Tšiu, Dyke Tšiu and Lebajoa Mosehlenyane, who have been playing at the highest level for a year now.
One thing is for sure; we are going to see a very interesting league contest this season, especially with teams like big-spending Sandawana FC in the mix, as well as Kick4Life who look very organised off the pitch while their coach, Motlalepula Majoro, has coached in the Premier League before.