Race over for Linare

MASERU — Linare’s title chances were blown away by the Central Prison wind on Saturday and their chances of winning a fourth championship will have to wait a little longer.

It will now be 32 years without the league title for Tse Tala after their weekend 2-1 loss to outgoing champions Matlama left them needing a minor miracle.

The loss was the knockout blow to Linare’s stagger towards the finish line and again exposed problems that have haunted the team’s challenges in the past.

The problem with the amateur status of Lesotho football means sometimes players fail to grasp the scale and importance of situations they find themselves in.

At times teams don’t enjoy bullet proof preparations.

Linare coach Pitso Mosothoane, for example, was absent due to personal reasons for Saturday’s loss.

Clubs don’t go to camp before matches and don’t have fixed timetables.

That’s why in the final stretch it’s always safe to bet on the so-called “government teams” LCS (Lesotho Correctional Services) and LDF (Lesotho Defence Force) if they are in the race.

They are better organised, better resourced and are more or less semi-professional.

But this is still a sad excuse for Linare. Lioli and Matlama have claimed the league in the past two seasons. Linare were in pole position to emulate their rivals after they fought back from a stumble early in the year, during which they lost to Bantu and LCS and drew with Maduma, with a run of four wins and a draw that left the destiny of the title in their own hands.

But a horrible run of form in April has put paid to Linare’s chances.

First came a 2-1 loss in Hlotse to Bantu when Linare had the chance to secure their position at the top of the log.

That was followed by another disappointing result at home, a goalless draw with LCS where Linare’s Refiloe Potse missed a last minute penalty.

The final straw was Saturday’s slack 2-1 loss to Matlama which means Linare can only reach 49 points and need a miracle to win the Vodacom Premier League.

League leaders LDF have 45 points and with five games to play they can still collect 60 points.

LCS can reach 57 points while Bantu can amass 54 points.

Linare’s failings can be tied to simple things such as the lack of a designated penalty taker. How does a title chasing team have its goalkeeper as its penalty taker?

There have periodically this year also been dissenting voices amongst the Linare faithful calling for elections at a time when energies perhaps needed to be focused on winning a first title for Leribe since 1980.

Meanwhile, LDF, LCS and Bantu are all smiling from the weekend’s action.

Bantu, who travel to Butha-Buthe to face Maduma on Saturday are still outsiders as they seek to claim their first ever championship triumph. At least they have given themselves a chance.

The increasingly clear favourites though are LDF and LCS, two juggernauts desperate to regain past glories.

There will be a final showdown on the last Sunday of the month between LDF and LCS at Ratjomose, a match that could settle who takes home the Vodacom Premier League’s M100 000 jackpot.

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