Premier League kicks off on Saturday

MASERU — The Vodacom Premier League finally roars into life this Saturday with Likhopo kicking off the campaign against LCS in the first match of a double-header at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.

Defending champions Matlama will take on Lerotholi in the second match of the day at the venue.

Likhopo team manager Qamako Mahao believes his young guns are now ready to launch an assault on the Vodacom Premier League title this season.

Likhopo terrorised Lesotho’s football landscape in the middle of the decade, winning the championship in 2004/05 and 2005/06 as well as claiming the Top 8 crown in 2007.

However the highest the side have finished in the top-flight league in the last five seasons is sixth.

Last season Likhopo finished seventh on the log despite boasting some of the most talented footballers in the country as they failed to find consistency in the season’s crucial moments.

But having been able to hang on to star striker Thapelo Tale, Mahao believes Likhopo are ready to challenge for the championship.

Likhopo have also welcomed back mercurial midfielder Tšeliso Sejake, after a successful loan spell at Lerotholi, to add yet another potentially potent weapon to a line-up already brimming with talent, much of which makes up Lesotho’s Under-20 national side.

“With the quality and the pool of players that we have we are contesting for the league title this season,” Mahao told the Lesotho Times yesterday.

Mahao said his charges were aiming for victory in the season opener on Saturday.

He added that Likhopo were ready to find consistency this season.

“Like any other team our aim is to win the game on Saturday,” Mahao said.

“The (national) Under-20 players joined training yesterday so we have a full squad to choose from.”

“When you are running a team full of stars like Likhopo it’s difficult,” he added.

“Last year we spent the first round of the season not knowing our first team. We are definitely sure this season.”

Mahao said he hoped the Under-20 players who have had a successful couple of months with Makoanyane XI would add a spark to the team.

Tsebang Lebata, Kananelo Makhooane, Salebone Lekhooa, Thabiso Mohapi, Lekhanya Lekhanya and Relebohile Raotse were all part Leslie Notši’s young side.

“The biggest thing is that they are match-fit and they have been playing international football,” Mahao said.

Another key player for them will be Tale who is back in the country after attending trials with Serbian premier league side FK Srem.

Tale looked likely to move to Serbia but the two clubs could not agree terms.

“He is back in the team and we expect him to be in the starting line-up on Saturday,” Mahao said.

“It’s not that we did not want to let him go — the problem is that they wanted to impose their own terms.

“If at any time another offer comes we are not going to stand in his way.”

Weekend fixtures

Saturday: Likhopo vs LCS (Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena), Lerotholi vs Matlama (Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena).

Sunday: Bantu vs Mphatlalatsane (Mafeteng), Lioli vs Mabeoana (Teyateyaneng), LMPS vs Linare (Old Europa), Joy vs LDF (Hlotse), Swallows vs Maduma (Mazenod).

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