Bantu remain firm favourites to lift their first Premier League title, thanks to dogged determination and consistency over the last few weeks, during which close rivals Lioli and Linare have dropped important points.
Defending champions Lioli have had chances to get back on track following defeats to Matlama and Linare in recent weeks, but the loss to LCS on Easter Monday has badly dented their chances of retaining the league title.
Linare, who have been in top form since the second round of the season started in February, have also dropped important points when it mattered most and it now looks like ‘A Matšo Matebele’ will finally end the long wait for the biggest prize in domestic football.
It is true Lioli’s recent slip-ups have become cause for concern to their supporters especially when one looks at their star-studded squad that should beat any side, including Bantu, on any day.
The main problem for Tse Nala has been inconsistency, and of-course, this could also do with the departure of veteran coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, who led the club to the league title last season, although he had stepped down from the position of head-coach and was technical director before he left with Leslie Notši to join United FC in South Africa.
There is no doubt Thotanyana’s departure from Tse Nala has left a big void at the club, as he brought many qualities to the team, such as discipline and respect in the dressing room, which I suspect have been a problem this season.
The rotation of players has also been a major issue with some sections of the supporters not happy with the benching of star-striker Nkoto Masoabi, who has always delivered when given a chance.
With two other top strikers, Tšepo Seturumane and Tšepo Lekhooana, on their books, choosing who to start was always going to be a problem for Lioli.
Seturumane was the league’s top marksman last season, but has been frustrated by injuries this season. I also feel playing Seturumane out-wide has really made it difficult for him to reproduce the form that made him such a top player last season.
This, and other issues at Tse Nala, has led to the team’s inconsistency this season while Bantu have looked more solid in all departments, hence they are favourites to clinch their maiden Premiership title.
Motlatsi Shale’s charges are yet to lose this league campaign and credit goes to the former national team striker, who has been able to get the best out of his side in only his first season in charge.
Linare, at some point, looked like they could give Bantu a run for their money in the remaining games, but I just feel they do not yet have the depth to take the title race to the wire, as they proved on Easter Monday with a disappointing draw against Mphatlatsane.
Bantu still have tough matches before the end of the campaign and will have to sweat for points against the likes of Likhopo and Qoaling Highlanders, who have frustrated some big sides this season.
With that said, I wish to pass my sincere condolences to the family of former Joy FC president, Dr Knight, who passed away last week.
Dr Knight contributed immensely to the beautiful game in this country, especially in Leribe, where Joy became one of the strongest teams over the years.
It was during this time that the team gave platforms to the likes of Jerry Kamele and Basia Makepe, who only moved to Lioli at the start of this season.
The two players have since become regular members of the Likuena set-up and Kamele, in his own words, has said Dr Knight was like a father to him during his time at Joy.