Stakes high as league battle hots up

MASERU — With two-thirds of the season almost gone, this is the time when the Vodacom Premier League title race enters its final stretch and pretenders fall by the wayside.

For four-time winners LCS, this weekend could be their last chance to have a shout at the title.

Masheshena face Linare at Central Prisons on Saturday.

Trailing pacesetters Lioli by 11 points, Masheshena know very well anything other than victory this weekend might as well kill off their hopes of reclaiming the crown they last won in 2008.

LCS coach Mafa Ramakau admitted as much.

“Yes, if we don’t win we will be far behind,” he told the Lesotho Times this week.

Since taking over at Central Prisons at the beginning of the year, Ramakau has overseen an improvement in Masheshena’s performances.

However, good results have not been tagging along.

The seventh-placed Masheshena have lost three matches since the veteran coach took over the reins.

They go into the critical Saturday fixture hard on the heels of a 1-0 defeat to Mphatlalatsane at St Monica’s last weekend.

Linare, breathing down the necks of LCS in seventh place, will not be easier opponents for the prisons side.

When the two sides met in the reverse fixture in Hlotse they shared the spoils in a one-all draw.

“The players are already under pressure,” Ramakau said. “But I still have confidence in my players.”

He said his players were struggling to find the back of the net, although LCS on 25 have scored only one less than league leaders Lioli.

In fact, it seems to be in defence where Masheshena have been struggling having conceded 21 goals in 19 matches compared to Lioli’s six.

Linare have scored 26 and conceded 17 in as many matches.

“The problem is scoring goals,” Ramakau insisted.

“Wherever they go they should be winning their games but we are missing chances.”

With Lioli, Matlama, Bantu and LDF leading the title race, it will be difficult for LCS to even finish in the top four.

LCS, with 28 points, are eight points behind fourth-placed LDF.

“It will be tough to get into the top four especially when we look at how the teams in front of us are playing,” said Ramakau.

LMPS, who clash against Likhopo at Old Europa on Saturday, are in a similar predicament.

A loss for the fifth-placed Simunye could see them fade from the title picture.

In Saturday’s other match, Lioli will look to take advantage of Matlama’s inactivity when they play Swallows in Mazenod.

 

Weekend fixtures

Saturday: LMPS vs Likhopo (Old Europa), Swallows vs Lioli (Mazenod), LCS vs Linare (Central Prisons),

Sunday: Lerotholi Polytechnic vs Majantja (Central Prisons), Joy vs Botha-Bothe Roses (Hlotse), Nyenye Rovers vs Mphatlalatsane (Maputsoe), Bantu vs LDF (Mafeteng).

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