Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Monday, October 16, 2017

From The Archives - Tactical Trends from the 2014 World Cup

2014 World Cup gave us memories and tactical trends still prevalent today...
The following piece was written three years ago (August 21, 2014) after the 2014 World Cup. Three years later, some of its points are relevant today.

The 2014 Fifa World Cup, it seemed, left as quickly as it came but it did leave some indelible legacies. As with previous editions Brazil 2014 showcased today’s en vogue tactical trends, where the game stands at the moment and, perhaps, where it is headed.

Mostly, there was a refreshing bravery and, after a counter-punching 2010 edition, this was perhaps confirmation of another shift in collective philosophy – a new cycle where attack is king.

Certainly, around Europe, clubs in the supremacy right now are those with attacking approaches.

In Germany, the two top sides – Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – are proponents of an attractive, offensive game. In England, Manchester City and Liverpool both scored over 100 league goals last season and, in Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to add to their rich attacking talent every year.

Even in Italy, the land of defensive arts, last season’s top two teams – Juventus and Roma – averaged two goals per game over the course of the league campaign.

Now, with the focus shifted to the new football season, here are some trends from the World Cup to look out for over the course of the 2014-15 season.

The return of the back three
For a decade the back three seemed extinct from the game with teams preferring a four-man defence of two centre-backs and two full-backs. As explained here by Zonal Marking, this was partly down to a rising prevalence of one-striker formations which often left the third centre-back redundant in both phases of the game.

However, the use of three central defenders has gradually crept back into the game and was in full vogue at the World Cup.

Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile and the Netherlands all used the system throughout the tournament.

All were highly successful and all reached the last 16.

The advantages of the system are clear with defensive solidity being the most obvious (in total, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile and the Netherlands conceded only 13 goals in 20 tournament games).

But, offensively there are benefits, too. Three centre-backs allow the fullbacks to push even higher up the pitch, making it possible to squeeze opponents back because the extra centre-back is able to cover or sweep up balls over the top.

The wingbacks, therefore, are able to support attacks as well as defend.

Teams will no doubt look to adopt this tactic this season with Louis Van Gaal’s transition from Netherlands coach to Manchester United being the most intriguing.

It will be interesting to see how widespread and frequent the use of three central defenders will be.

Is this the return of the back three?

The advanced keeper
Manuel Neuer was at times an extra outfield player for Germany...

Germany’s Manuel Neuer introduced a new position at the World Cup – the advanced keeper.

Of course the concept of a sweeper keeper isn’t new. It is widely credited to the Dutch and was popularised by Rinus Michels and Total Football in the 60s. Gerrit Bals, the Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper at the time, was encouraged to patrol the space behind the defence by Michels and the stopper played a notable role in Ajax’s dominant side from the mid-60s to early 70s.

Later, Edwin van der Sar became perhaps the role’s first master, being able not only to sweep behind the defensive line, but initiate attacks with his distribution as well.

Fast forward to Brazil 2014 and Neuer took things a step further by basically becoming an extra outfield player for Germany, most famously in their last 16 tie against Algeria.

Manuel Neuer’s famous heat-map v Algeria:

Image via Squawka
-           59 touches of the ball
-           19 outside penalty box

In the chess game that is football, coaches are forever seeking an upper hand over opponents and the 11th-man keeper has obvious advantages – he allows the team to push higher up the pitch because he covers space behind the defence and can also launch attacks.

Apart from Neuer, other exponents of the advanced keeper are Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris and Victor Valdes, now at AS Monaco.

Modern football is more holistic.

Increasingly every player on the team has to contribute more; the advanced keeper is just another step in this evolution.

The winger-playmaker
Arjen Robben was influential at the 2014 World Cup
as a winger-playmaker
This was a particular quirk of the World Cup, the winger that was essentially a number10, i.e. the team’s main creator.

Arjen Robben was the best example of this.

Nominally a winger, Robben spent a lot of time creating havoc in central zones. Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz also had a successful tournament drifting infield from a wide position while Mesut Özil was similarly influential in Germany’s World Cup final win over Argentina drifting in from the wing.

The reasons for this shift are also clear.

The introduction of the Makelele midfielder has minimised the work space of the traditional number 10, usually seeing him harassed and chased for 90 minutes.

For the winger playmaker, however, there is often to space be found when the opposing fullback ventures forward, a major part of the modern game. The winger-playmaker usually gains possession in wide areas and can then decide whether to cut inside or attack on the outside.

By a winger-playmaker cutting inside it means fullbacks are unable to use the sideline as an extra defender and, by engaging midfielders centrally, the winger-playmaker creates space for runners coming from deep and teammates on the overlap.

The rise of the counterattack as a team strategy, not just phase of play, is another cause of this strategy as the languid, traditional number 10 has been sacrificed for quicker alternatives. The team’s most creative player is now frequently stationed out wide.

This was seen, for example, with Atletico Madrid last season, and they had great success with skilled ball-players Koke and Arda Turan who could put in a shift out wide and also drift infield to dangerous effect.

Two-man pivot remains the way
Even with a three-man defence the Netherlands still employed a two-man pivot in front of the defence, just like all the other three semi-finalists – Germany, Argentina and Brazil.

Standard interpretation of the midfield double-pivot:

This is a tactic that was solidified at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and has become standard today. The double-pivot provides protection to the defence and ensures the team isn’t overrun in midfield.

Still, it is vital the two central midfielders are able to build play and dictate the game in an offensive sense as well. That was a problem Brazil had; Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo were unable to progress play into the final third.

Balance between the double pivot's defensive abilities and capacities for progression is crucial. Germany were successful because at all times they had a duo able gradually press opposition back and dictate the life of the game.

This area remains key.

Importance of set-pieces
Not so much of a tactical trend, but a confirmation: set-pieces are crucial in the modern game.

Roughly set-pieces account for 30% of goals scored at the highest level and they have become a crucial part of the game.

For example, from the quarterfinal stage to the final (barring Germany’s 7-1 mauling of Brazil), four of the six goals scored came from set-pieces.

It is simple.

The biggest games are decided by the smallest margins because all teams involved are highly skilled and defensively prepared. Space and clear-cut chances from open play are at a premium.

Set-pieces, thus, provide a golden opportunity to decide a game.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Lesotho faces Zimbabwe in COSAFA Cup semi-finals

Lesotho striker Thapelo Tale (left) challenged by Namibia's Denzil Haoseb
Lesotho is one step away from reaching the final of the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup. Likuena will face Zimbabwe in the COSAFA Castle Cup semi-finals on Wednesday afternoon and the match will kick-off at 17:30 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.

Moses Maliehe’s charges booked their place in the last four thanks to a 5-4 penalty shootout win over 2015 champions Namibia in Saturday’s quarterfinals after the match had ended goalless draw in normal time.

Minister of sport Kabelo Mafura praised Likuena’s progression to the final four of the regional showpiece being hosted in South Africa’s North West province.

“We want sports be a unifying factor for Basotho and that is what I am working towards,” Mafura added.

Before the COSAFA Cup, Mafura boosted Likuena’s tournament budget with M50 000 from his own pocket. Wednesday’s semi-final against Zimbabwe will be the second time in the past four years that Lesotho meets the Warriors at the last four stage. In 2013 in Zambia, Zimbabwe ran out 2-1 winners.

Likuena will be looking for a reversal of fortunes as they chase a first-ever international title.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Namibia looking forward to Lesotho clash at COSAFA Cup

Namibia were COSAFA Castle Cup champions in 2015...
Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti says the Brave Warriors are looking forward to the challenge of facing Lesotho in the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup. The draw for this year’s competition was conducted two weeks ago and the sides will face-off in the quarterfinals.

Asked about the draw, Ricardo Mannetti was buoyant. He said Namibia respects Lesotho but is aiming to go all the way to the final and championship glory.

“I know Lesotho very well; they play positive football with a lot of energy. We will have to control those qualities which I think we are capable of doing,” Mannetti said.

Mannetti said Namibia’s main objective was to win to the regional showpiece, a feat they achieved for the first time in 2015 when the COSAFA Castle Cup was last hosted in South Africa.

“We aim to win the trophy and in order to do so we will have to beat Lesotho to reach the semi-finals, and ultimately the final,” he said. “But, we will take it one game at a time, because that’s what it’s all about. You can’t play the next game, before the one you have to play,” he said.

According to Mannetti, the Brave Warriors’ preparations will ultimately be more important than the opponents they will face.

“It is not much about whom we are drawn against, but rather our preparations and intensity. We have faith in our strengths and approach and we will have to perfect that and play our own way,” he said.

As in the previous three tournaments, the quarterfinal losers will contest the Plate competition.

However, for the winner of the match between Lesotho and Namibia the prospect of a Cup semi-final and final will await. In the semi-finals the two teams will either face Swaziland or the winner of Group B.

COSAFA Castle Cup draw:
Group A: Angola, Tanzania, Mauritius, Malawi
Group B: Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles

1 July
Match 13: Botswana v Zambia (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Phokeng)
Match 14: Namibia v Lesotho (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Phokeng)
2 July
Match 15: South Africa v Group A winner (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Phokeng)
Match 16: Swaziland v Group B winner (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Phokeng)

5 July
Winner of Match 13 v Winner of Match 15
Winner of Match 14 v Winner of Match 16

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lichocha women not resting after NBL championship win

Lichocha women are Lesotho's basketball queens again...
There is no rest for the wicked, as they say, and that is the case for the Lichocha Shooting Rifles ladies basketball team. Just three weeks ago Lichocha won a third successive National Basketball League (NBL) women’s title but already they are looking at ways to improve their squad.

Lichocha were crowned 2016/17 champions after beating Bokamoso North 49-45 in Game 5 of a thrilling women’s NBL finals to win the series 3-2.

It was a tightly-contested series pitting the experience of Lichocha against the youth of Bokamoso. But, in the end, Lichocha prevailed to add to titles they won in 2015 and 2016.

However, instead of celebrating, Lichocha say they are already head-hunting players to reinforce their squad. It is this attitude that can help explain why the team has won seven major trophies since 2014.

Lichocha captain Khothalo Mpeta said the team is on a scouting mission to find two players that will fill their roster. Lichocha currently have 10 players and teams are allowed to have 12. Mpeta also praised the team’s closeness as being the key to their continuing success.

“We need to recruit a few more players to make it a full team of 12 players; at the moment the team has only 10 players,” she said.

“We are successful because of the love we have between us as players,” Mpeta added. “We trust each other and everyone knows what to do on the court. The love that we all have for each other keeps the squad in high spirits.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lesotho cycling manager Mark West pleased with performance at African Champs

Team Lesotho won two medals at the African MTB Championships
Lesotho cycling team manager Mark West says he is happy with the country’s performance at the African Continental MTB Cross-Country Championships that were held in Mauritius two weeks ago.

Team Lesotho was made up of a five-member squad of Phetetso Monese, Teboho Khantši, Tumelo Makae, Malefetsane Lesofe and Likeleli Masitise.

Monese and Khantsi competed in the elite men’s competition; Makae and Lesofe were in the Under-23 men’s section and Masitise competed in the elite ladies competition.

Lesotho competed against mountain bike specialists from host nation Mauritius as well as South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Morocco in the continental event that took place on May 12 to 14.

The team’s best performers were Makae, who won silver in the men’s Under-23 XCO Olympic Cross-Country race, and Likeleli Masitise who won bronze in the women’s elite race.

2016 Olympian Monese, meanwhile, only just missed out on a bronze medal. He finished fourth in the elite men’s XCO race and fifth in the marathon category. Lesofe also put in a solid display finishing sixth in the Under-23 race.

West said he was pleased with Lesotho’s medals haul and overall performance.

Likeleli Masitise (right) on the podium in Mauritius
“I am happy with their performances. I had hoped for more medals but we still did well,” he said.
“They struggled with the weather conditions but at least we managed to finish in positions five and six in the men’s (elite) category and Masitise finished third in the women’s category.”

West continued: “This shows there was commitment and I am really satisfied. We now need to go back to drawing board and wait for the Lesotho Cycling Association to tell us about our next competition.”

Lesotho is one of the world’s top nations in the mountain bike discipline. The country is ranked 30th in the world by the International Cycling Union ahead of nations such as Great Britain, Greece and China and second in Africa, only behind South Africa.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lesotho champions Bokamoso set for Swaziland showpiece

Bokamoso South (left) beat Lichocha Shooting Rifles (right)
in the 2016/17 NBL finals...
Newly-crowned 2016/17 National Basketball League (NBL) champions Bokamoso South are set to represent Lesotho at the annual Swaziland Invitational International Basketball Tournament next month.

The regional basketball showpiece will take place from June 23 to 25 in Mbabane and Bokamoso will be joined by rivals KTA All-Stars as Lesotho’s two contestants in the men’s competition.

Bokamoso’s women’s team, Bokamoso North, which lost to Lichocha Shooting Rifles in the ladies’ NBL finals, has also been invited to the Swaziland tournament.

Bokamoso South’s voyage comes after they won a first national crown to cap a dominant season. Bokamoso won 32 of their 35 games in all competitions and completed a historic treble of trophies.

In addition to the NBL title, Bokamoso also won the Sprite Memorial Independence Tournament last October and the Sprite Summer Slam Charity Tournament in December.

They have been drawn in Group B alongside Imbumbe of Swaziland, Trojans from South Africa, Petromoc of Mozambique, Savio from Tanzania and Zimbabwe’s Harare City Hornets.

The youth based Bokamoso development programme was founded in 2012 and in less than five years it has taken Lesotho basketball by storm, becoming the main feeder for Lesotho’s national teams and the team to beat in the league.

Last year, Bokamoso South reached their first-ever NBL finals before losing to KTA All-Stars. This year they went one better when they beat Lichocha Shooting Rifles 3-1 in the NBL finals.

At the moment, the club has registered four teams – two girls and two boys – in the NBL and is it planning on registering a fifth team based on growth. Bokamoso almost completed a double of wins in both the men’s and women’s championships, but Bokamoso North agonisingly lost 3-2 to Lichocha in the NBL women’s finals.

Bokamoso’s women’s team has been drawn in Group B in Swaziland where they face South Africa’s Phoenix Flames, Mozambique’s Amigas Do Basquete and Zimbabwe’s Lynx BQ.

The Swaziland Invitational International Basketball Tournament is an opportunity for Bokamoso basketball club to measure its progress on the international stage.
Champions! Bokamoso South
Swaziland Invitational Tournament Groups:

Group A
V n J (South Africa)
Lady Lioness (Tanzania)
Botswana Police (Botswana)
Lakers (Zimbabwe) 

Group B
Phoenix Flames (South Africa)
Amigas Do Basquete (Mozambique)
Bokamoso (Lesotho)
Lynx B.Q (Zimbabwe)

Group C
Dolphins (Botswana)
Vixens (Zimbabwe)
Jozi Nuggets (South Africa)
Clube Ferroviario de Maputo (Mozambique)

Group D
Greenstars (Zimbabwe)
Lady Dynamites (Malawi)
Raptors (South Africa)
Superladies (Swaziland)

Group A
Jozi Nuggets (South Africa)
Hard Steels (Swaziland)
Hustlers (Zimbabwe)
FADM (Mozambique)
Munali Suns (Zambia)
KTA All-Stars (Lesotho)

Group B
Imbumbe (Swaziland)
Trojans (South Africa)
Petromoc (Mozambique)
Savio (Tanzania)
Bokamoso (Lesotho)
Harare City Hornets (Zimbabwe)

Group C
MBB (South Africa)
Superstars (Swaziland)
Dolphins (Botswana)
Foxes (Zimbabwe)
Young Stars (Tanzania)
Central Knights (Malawi)

Group D
Jazz (Swaziland)
Phoenix (South Africa)
Newcastle Avengers (South Africa)
Craques Da Boca (Mozambique)
Mikoko (Malawi)
JBC (Zimbabwe)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hlompho Kalake the big winner at Bantu awards

Hlompho Kalake was the big winner at Bantu's awards after a superb season...
Hlompho ‘Stiga’ Kalake was the big winner at the Bantu club awards that were held on Sunday. The gala was held at Golden Hotel in Mafeteng as the recently crowned Vodacom Premier League champions celebrated their wonderful 2016/17 season.

It was a glitzy affair as A Matšo Matebele continued their 90th birthday celebrations and marked a second-ever league title in the club’s long history.

It turned out to be a day to remember for Kalake who won the day’s main award, the player of the season accolade, beating out club captain Thapelo Mokhehle and recent Lesotho call-up Itumeleng Falene.

Kalake won a cool M5000 for his efforts, but he wasn’t done.

The Likuena midfielder also claimed the players’ player of the season and the club’s golden boot award for scoring 13 goals in all competitions this season. Kalake received M1500 with each award.

In total, there were 13 player awards up for grabs at the gala. Skipper Mokhehle won the goal of the season for his long range thunderbolt against Liphakoe while Falene won the award for the team’s best signing.

Versatile defender Tsietsi Khooa was named the most consistent player while skilful winger Ramasimong Maloisane was awarded the fans’ favourite player accolade after a scintillating debut season in Mafeteng.

The awards also saw Bantu president John Leuta honour the club’s technical brains trust of coach James Madidilane and his assistant Bob Mafoso. Leuta also took the opportunity to deny either of the pair would be leaving the club.

“If a car is not broken, let it move,” Leuta said.

Awards and prizes:
Player of the season – Hlompho Kalake (M5000)
Players’ player of the season – Hlompho Kalake (M1500)
Young player of the season – Thabo Lesaoana (M500)
Most improved player – Itumeleng Falene (M1000)
Good sportsmanship award – Mokone Marabe (M1000)
Most consistent player – Tsietsi Khooa (M1000)
Most disciplined player – Lindokuhle Phungulwa (M1000)
Fans’ favourite player – Ramasimong Maloisane (M1000)
Best signing – Itumeleng Falene (M1000)
Longest serving – Tlali Maile (M1000)
Golden glove – Thabo Selisa (M1000)
Goal of the season – Thapelo Mokhehle (M1500)
Golden boot – Hlompho Kalake (M1500)
Presidential award – Litšepe Marabe (M1500)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Champions Bantu to hold awards gala

Champions Bantu will continue their celebrations on Sunday in Mafeteng
Vodacom Premier League champions Bantu will host an awards show on Sunday at Golden Hotel in Mafeteng. The gala will celebrate the side’s successful 2016/17 season which saw A Matšo Matebele win their second league title in club history.

The awards will start at 11:00.

Bantu, who last won the league in 2014, completed a wonderful 2016/17 campaign earlier this month when they sealed the championship with a last day win over Kick4Life. The Mafeteng giants earned themselves a cool M200,000 for capturing the Vodacom Premier League title, most of which went to the players.

Nevertheless, Bantu communications and marketing manager Motlatsi Mofokeng said the club’s management wanted to honour the players and coaching staff even further after they brought the club success in the year of its 90th birthday celebrations.

“It is the responsibility of the management to motivate the team and we believe the motivation they will get from the awards will work for the team next season,” Mofokeng said.

“Even though the success of the team is a result of unity, individuals have to be honoured for their contribution in their respective positions at the club,” he added.

“The players sacrificed their time with friends and families and dedicated themselves to their work,” Mofokeng continued. “Therefore, now is the time for them to get rewarded for making their supporters and management happy.” 

Bantu’s players were certainly exceptional in the 2016/17 Vodacom premiership season. They won 19 of their 26 league matches, only lost twice and scored the most goals (50).

In the end, A Matšo Matebele collected 62 points to end rivals Lioli’s two-year reign as league champions.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Likuena slip one place in FIFA rankings

Jane Thaba-Ntšo and Likuena are now 149th in the world, 45th in Africa...
Lesotho has slipped one place to 149th in the world in the latest FIFA rankings. Likuena are now 45th in Africa behind South Sudan (44th), Angola (43rd) and Comoros (42nd).

Likuena have only played one match in 2017, a 1-0 friendly loss away to Mozambique in March. The defeat is also Lesotho’s only game since Moses Maliehe took over as coach in December.

Lesotho will play its first competitive game under Maliehe on June 13, a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier away against Tanzania.

Likuena, of course, are in Group L of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers alongside Uganda, Cape Verde and Tanzania. After the June fixture against Tanzania there will be a long break until March 2018 for the next round of group games when Lesotho will host Cape Verde.

The national team’s next competitive fixture of 2017, therefore, will be in July in the form of a two-legged match against Comoros in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers.  Comoros will host the first leg on July 4 before the return leg at Setsoto Stadium on July 21.

Should Likuena navigate their way past Comoros they would face either Namibia or Zimbabwe in the final CHAN qualifying round in August.

Returning to the world rankings and it was a quiet month on the international front which is reflected in FIFA’s latest ratings.

Egypt remains Africa’s top-ranked country after moving up one place to 35th on the global rankings table. The Pharaohs are followed by Senegal and African champions Cameroon.

Burkina Faso, Nigeria, DR Congo, Tunisia, Ghana‚ Ivory Coast and Morocco round out Africa’s top ten.

The biggest movers in FIFA’s latest rankings were Madagascar, who soared nine places to 111th in the world, while Malawi was the worst mover, dropping 14 places from 100th to 114th.

When it comes to the world’s top ten, there was also no movement with Brazil still first on the charts followed by Argentina‚ Germany‚ Chile and Colombia.

France‚ Belgium‚ European champions Portugal‚ Switzerland and Spain make up the rest of the world’s top ten teams.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bokamoso South crowned 2016/17 National Basketball League champions

Lesotho's new basketball champions... Bokamoso South
Bokamoso South have been crowned champions of the 2016/17 National Basketball League (NBL) season after a 83-76 overtime win over Lichocha Shooting Rifles in Game 4 of the NBL finals on Sunday.

Bokamoso’s dramatic win at a lively Lehakoe Club gave them an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five finals series.

It is the first national title for the club since they were founded in 2012 and it was sealed in thrilling fashion as Sunday’s game went beyond the normal regulation time.

It was the sides’ fourth meeting in two weeks after Bokamoso won 83-77 and 76-64 in Games 1 and 2 last weekend before Lichocha won Game 3 68-60 on Friday, and the tension was clear from onset.

The teams traded leads throughout the tight game until Bokamoso finally sealed a memorable 83-76 victory after nearly two hours of action.

With the win, Bokamoso completed a remarkable treble and confirmed themselves as the new force of Lesotho basketball.

Bokamoso had already won the Sprite Memorial Independence Tournament last October and the Sprite Summer Slam Charity Tournament in December. Bokamoso, who also finished first in the regular season league phase to claim the top seed for the NBL playoffs, won 32 of their 35 games in all competitions this season.

They will represent Lesotho at the annual Swaziland Invitational Basketball Tournament in June.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

First half blitz gives Bantu the Vodacom Premier League title

Celebration time... Bantu are the 2016/17 champions of Lesotho
Bantu are the 2016/17 Vodacom Premier League champions after they used a first half blitz to thump Kick4Life 3-0 at the Maputsoe DiFA Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The win was enough to secure A Matšo Matebele the title ahead of Lioli. The Mafeteng giants finished with 62 points to Tse Nala’s 60.

Bantu had gone into their season finale knowing they needed a win to seal the championship but unsure of the challenge they would face from Kick4Life. Kick4Life had already secured a top four place and had only won once in six games heading into today’s game. However, Leslie Notši’s charges had also inflicted one of the two defeats Bantu suffered this season.

Nonetheless, A Matšo Matebele, backed by massive travelling support in Maputsoe, were inspired.

James Madidilane’s side were aggressive from the first whistle and immediately overwhelmed Kick4Life. And, the yellow and black clad throng of Bantu fans didn’t have to wait long to celebrate a goal.

In the ninth minute in-form striker Lazola Tjokotjokwana put Bantu ahead with a fine header to send the crowd into rapture and ease nerves.

Bantu didn’t ease their relentless pressure, however. And, they were rewarded when another of the side’s stars this season, Litšepe Marabe, made it 2-0 in the 34th minute.

Six minutes later it was 3-0 as player of the season contender Hlompho Kalake scored his 11th league goal of the season, making him the league’s highest scoring midfielder this term.

With the score 3-0 at halftime, Bantu were able to consolidate and coast their way through the second half. The final whistle was met by scenes of wild celebration as A Matšo Matebele clinched the title in the year of their 90th birthday celebrations.

Bantu’s success against Kick4Life made Lioli’s 2-0 win over Sky Battalion at Setsoto Stadium purely academic. Tse Nala were forced to relinquish the league crown after holding it for two years.
Bantu fans turned out in their numbers...
There was also drama at the bottom of the league in the relegation battle involving Rovers and Likhopo.

Likhopo beat Liphakoe 2-0 in Quthing while Rovers drew 1-1 with Linare in Roma. The results meant the Red Army leapfrogged above Rovers into 12th place. Both sides finished with 17 points but Likhopo survived the axe thanks to a superior goal difference.

It was heartbreak for Rovers who were relegated from the Vodacom Premier League on the final day.

Elsewhere, LCS clinched third place thanks to their 2-0 win over Sundawana and Kick4Life’s loss to Bantu. It is the ninth time in ten years Masheshena have made the top four.

Lastly, the battle for the top eight was also settled. LMPS made hard work of it, but they eventually beat relegated Butha-Buthe Warriors 2-1 to clinch the final remaining place in the top eight.

Semonye return to the Vodacom Premier League’s top eight after finishing ninth last season.

The main story, however, was in Maputsoe where Bantu took the town over and painted it black and yellow. Now they are new kings of Lesotho. A Matšo Matebele have won the second championship in club history in the year of their 90th birthday festivities.

Vodacom Premier League Final Day Results:      
LMPS 2-1 Butha-Buthe Warriors
Bantu 3-0 Kick4Life
LCS 2-0 Sundawana
LDF 0-0 Matlama
Liphakoe 0-2 Likhopo
Lioli 2-0 Sky Battalion
Rovers 1-1 Linare

Final 2016/17 Vodacom Premier League Standings:

Sky Battalion
Butha-Buthe Warriors
·         Matlama docked 3 points
·         LDF docked 3 points and 3 goals