The fourth round of Lesotho’s Vodacom Premier League [VPL] has been concluded, and the opening fixtures of the season have shown a glimpse of where the league is going.
Bantu are slowly moving further away from the top spot. In the build-up to the season, they were touted as fierce challengers for Matlama.
JUSTIFY CONTENDER TAG
But any hopes always hinged on them finding consistency, and after four games, they have not justified the contenders’ tag.
While Matlama, Lesotho’s representatives in the CAF Champions League, went on a rampage against Naughty Boys, winning 6-0 at Setsoto Stadium on Tuesday, Bantu struggled against Lijabatho in Mohale’s Hoek.
Questions arose when the club announced their final squad list for the season and only had three strikers, Tšeliso Botsane, Thabiso Mahola and Sentle Masale.
It was not because they aren’t good, Botsane is a promising prospect, but he is not yet ready to lead an attack for a club trying to win a league title.
As promising as he might be, he has appeared once on their bench so far, Mahola jury is still out on him, and Masale has not started a game yet.
Seasoned campaigners like Maloisane Ramasimong and Luciano Matsoso, as well as Boitumelo Malejwane and Okuhle Mpayipheli, are watching from the stands.
They cannot get involved as they have not been registered and cannot obtain International Transfer Certificates (ITC) on time.
The situation has left head coach Moeketsi Mongoya in a position where he must rely on unproven players who may turn out not good enough because the club messed the transfer window up.
FARPost has it on good authority that Matsoso only signed his contract on deadline day despite being with the club for weeks of training and appearing for preseason.
They applied for their ITCs on the same day, and there was no chance they would succeed as the process was lengthy.
It requires verification and matching of information by two associations involved, which makes it impossible to be completed in one day.
It is unclear why Bantu was posturing on contracts, but it has jeopardised their title aspirations, and Mongoya is working with one hand tied behind his back.
He cannot call on his experienced players. Despite this apparent incompetence from the club, Bantu have a hell of a squad whose depth can only be matched by Matlama.
Could the inconsistency be due to the new coach and the players still getting used to his methods? Unclear. Mongoya has used two of his goalkeepers in four games, Ntsane Lichaba has started three games, while Thabo Selisa has played once.
While it is still early to make wild predictions, Bantu already have a reason to be concerned about being five points behind the champions.
Speaking of the champions, what a way to go into the election break. Scintillating performance in a six-goal rout against Premier League newcomers Naughty Boys, who are rooted at the bottom of the league.
A brace from Tšepang Ntšenyane, Jane Thabantšo, Makume Theletsane, Nyolohelo Mahloane and an own goal helped Matlama make it four wins in a row and maintain their perfect start to the season.
Goalkeeper Monaheng Ramalefane barely had anything to do for 90 minutes, he could have brought a mattress to rest, and that would still be more testing than the Naughty Boys’ attackers.
They only attacked from a corner, which went straight to the keeper.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Though no fault of their own, the Naughty Boys squad is nowhere Premier level.
That’s because they assembled a team to play second division but won promotional play-offs after the window had been closed.
Lesotho Football Association [LEFA] called for playoffs late and did not even grant the club a special dispensation to sign players outside the transfer window.
In other games, Linare recorded their second victory in a row against Manonyane; so far, Tebogo Moloi’s departure doesn’t seem to be affecting them. Players are said to be in good spirits.
Lesotho Correctional Service [LCS] bounced back with a 4-0 victory over Mazenod Swallows to reclaim second position.
In Teyateyaneng, Lioli went back to the winning ways. A solitary goal from Relebohile Matsepe was enough to see off Galaxy.
While Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) also clinched a 1-0 over Lifofane. Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).
And Liphakoe took their draw kings title seriously. Both played goalless draws against Machokha and CCX, respectively.
Premier League action will resume on October 9.