LDF . . . . . . . .(0) 1
LCS . . . . . . . .(0) 1
MASERU — Gallant LCS were crowned this year’s Vodacom league champions on Sunday following a 1-1 draw with LDF at Ratjomose.
It is a victory that could herald a new era of Masheshena domination.
But in some ways it’s still difficult to understand why LCS failed to clinch the league title in the past two years yet they had the best talent in the country.
Though the two teams finished tied on 55 points Masheshena clinched this year’s league title on superior goal difference.
The game was a cagey affair with both teams cautious of making a mistake. It meant a tie where good possession was at a premium.
LDF were the forceful side though and they imposed their style better on their opponents. Sohle-Sohle had the best chance but defender Koporala Motanyane headed over the bar in the 30th minute.
In hindsight it was a possible turning point for the match, a fantastic chance, but Motanyane could only head over the bar from Mafoafoa Lephoto’s delicious corner-kick.
As the game progressed it turned into a running physical battle.
The introduction of experienced Tšepo Keketsi for a nervous Thabo Mphethe also helped as the soldiers parked inside Masheshena’s half.
But despite the home side’s pressure it was LCS who took the lead against the run of play in the 79th minute through Thulo Ranchobe.
Sohle-Sohle fought back to equalise through Keketsi six minutes from time by their challenge fell just short.
In the end it was too little too late.
LCS mentor Mafa Ramakau, who incredibly claimed a ninth league title, made two crucial decisions playing giant keeper Sam Ketsekile and experienced Kutloisiso Nthaonyana on the left wing instead of the mercurial but brittle Lawrence Molengoane.
It worked a charm in the end as LCS became only the third side after Matlama and LDF to win five championships.“The game went according to how I thought it would go,” Ramakau said amongst the post match celebrations. “We put the keeper (Ketsekile) on purpose because we know he is good with high balls.”“It was very tough, LDF were prepared and they made us play a game that we don’t like,” Ramakau said.Despite the loss LDF’s coach Motheo Mohapi said he was proud of his troops.“We played well, we were the better side. Tactically we were superior, we just couldn’t finish our chances,” he said.The turning point for LDF was their loss to Likhopo three weeks where Sohle-Sohle fell 1-0 through a last minute own goal.“There are many games that we can say we could have done this or that but at the end of day I’m proud of my team,” Mohapi said.Sunday’s game and the league was there for the taking for the army side. LDF are not the prettiest side but as Ramakau admitted the army side imposed their style well and had LCS on the ropes.But it is an old cliché in football that if you don’t take your chances you will be punished, and that is exactly what happened.LCS now face the exciting prospect of Caf Champions League football, a long-awaited return for Masheshena since their 2007 campaign when LCS lost to South African side Platinum Stars.Ramakau said the preparations will begin in earnest immediately. “If the management is running properly then this team will always perform well,” Thabane Rankara, LCS player and league top scorer with 13 goals, said afterwards.