Relegation fight rages to the bitter end

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Mikia Kalati

The relegation dogfight will continue to the bitter end with Mphatlalatsane, Likila United, Linare and Rovers all hopping to avoid the dreaded chop.

The last two sides on the 14-team premiership table will drop to the A Division come end of the season and replaced by Butha-Buthe Warriors and Sky Battalion who have won automatic promotion spots in the North and South streams respectively.

As things stand, Mphatlalatsane are bottom of the table with 15 points—five adrift of 13th and 12th placed Likila United and Linare.

Linare and Matlama are the only teams which have never been relegated from the topflight league.

However, that proud record is likely to be broken this season as the Hlotse-based Linare continue to struggle and are still winless since the second round of the season started in January.

Linare came close to winning their first match of the season this past weekend, but squandered a 2-0 lead to allow Bantu to get back into the game and score twice in the second half for the game, which saw the game finishing 2-2.

Tse Tala also missed a penalty in that game which could have handed them a 3-2 win against the inconsistent A Matšo Matebele.

The Motlatsi Shale-coached side has shown a lot of improvement in recent matches and might fancy their chances of survival in the remaining three matches which start against fellow strugglers Likila United on Saturday. That tie would be followed by yet another do-or-die tie against Rovers and then lastly Lioli on 8 May.

For Likila United, it looks like their fairytale in the premier league will finally come to an end this season.

This is the side that surprised all and sundry last season by forcing their way into the top 8 in their first season in the premier league.

However, the departure of coach Bob Mafoso, who left for Sundawana at the start of this season, seemed to have hurt the Butha-Buthe side as they have struggled to emulate their heroics of last term.

Yet of all the four teams fighting for survival, Mphatlalatsane appear to be in a more desperate state as they must win all their three remaining matches and hope the others lose their fixtures, to stand any chance of beating the drop.

The St Monica’s side must beat Sundawana this Saturday or their fate will be decided in that very same match and end their three-season stay in the topflight league.

After Sundawana, Mphatlalatsane face Linare and Likila United and considering these two are also desperate for points, the matches are not going to be easy at all.

Rovers—the other side in trouble—would need to dig deep if they are to save themselves from relegation after a single season in in the premier league.

The Dynamites started the season very well and in the first round, were among the top five teams in the league. However,  their standards started to drop and mostly due to off-field problems.

And despite their recent boost of getting sponsorship from Metropolitan Lesotho, the university side have found it very difficult to get out of the danger zone.

Rovers on Saturday face a Likhopo side equally desperate for points to make it into the top-four come end of the season.

The last two matches are against Lioli and Liphakoe away from home, compounding an already complex situation.

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