Swallows in make-or-break encounter

MASERU — With the size and passion of its population, Mazenod should really be one of Lesotho’s football hotbeds.

There have been brief glimpses of this potential; moments when Mazenod has fermented Swallows’ tiny ground into a theatre of nightmares for visitors — but this has never been consistent.

As with all community sides Swallows lacks organisation and discipline and, as the gulf with the top sides widens, so Maswai-swai is slipping further into the shadows. Last December the side briefly topped the Premier League, but they floundered in the second half of the campaign ultimately ending up fourth from the bottom.

One player who knows Maswai-swai’s travails well is Joele Letsoela — captain, defensive rock and inspiration rolled into one. He is a reason behind Swallows’ miserly defence. Last season the side kept an impressive 15 clean sheets, only LDF with 19 and champions Lioli with 16 had more.

This week there is a lot on the agenda for Letsoela — his side’s fighting fans and Saturday’s visit to Lioli.

“The referee lost control of the game from early on (and) I don’t think what happened on Saturday was fair,” Letsoela says. 

Letsoela was speaking to Lesotho Times after his side’s league game with Matlama on Saturday at Pitso Ground was abandoned when Swallows fans stormed the pitch and attacked referee Lerato Kelepa late in the game.

Swallows were at the time down 2-1 and Kelepa’s sending off of Maswai-swai midfielder Lebohang Mohapi was the last straw.

“Lebohang was roughly tackled from behind but no foul was given and then one of our players Lefoka fouled a Matlama  player which the referee gave a foul for. But instead of giving the card to Lefoka he gave it to Mohapi,” Letsoela says.

“It is the third season that a game between Matlama and Swallows wasn’t completed,” he added.

Asked whether he expects stiff punishment for his side Letsoela says: “Yes, but it is unfair because there is never a time when Swallows are called to a hearing and in truth I’m expecting it to happen again,” Letsoela said.

Swallows then lost 1-0 at home to Likhopo on Sunday.

It means Swallows came from the weekend with no points. It also means when they travel to Teyateyaneng to face Lioli, a win is a must.

“They (Lioli) always beat us in TY.  In my six years here we have only won once there,” Letsoela says.

“The best result we have got there is a draw.”

Swallows’ defence will surely have to be good.

“That is another thing we have been talking about, and we know Seenyane (Nthejane) is very dangerous with his speed. But we know him, he grew up here,” Letsoela says, adding that a touch of luck will be needed.

With four teams going down Swallows have already been earmarked as relegation candidates.

“People are saying that we are going to finish 15th but I don’t think so,” Letsoela says.

“Second round we had a problem with players being unavailable,” Letsoela said.

“That is a problem that we are solving.”

But any revival will have to start against Lioli a team that has lost just two of their last 27 games in TY.

“We have a young team and what happens is that they want to prove a point against these big teams. That is why you find that we do so well against teams like LDF, LCS and Lioli,” Letsoela says.

“It will be a good game. One thing I know is that these players are going to  match Lioli. We are prepared to win.”

 

Weekend fixtures:

Saturday

Likhopo vs LMPS (Central Prisons)

Lioli vs Swallows (TY)

Linare vs LCS (Hlotse)

Matlama vs Rovers (Pitso Ground)

 

Sunday

Majantja vs Lerotholi Polytechnic (Mohale’s Hoek)

Butha-Buthe Roses vs Joy (Butha-Buthe)

Mphatlalatsane vs Nyenye Rovers (St Monicas)

LDF vs Bantu (Ratjomose)

 

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