Veteran LDF defender says luck will decide title

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MASERU — LDF’s stalwart defender Malefetsane Pheko is one player that can rightfully claim to have seen it all before.

In a glittering career spanning 19 years, Pheko has achieved unprecedented success at club as well as playing for Likuena for a decade.

Since joining LDF from Lioli in 1992 he has collected six league winners’ medals, making him the most decorated player in Lesotho’s football history.

Now this Saturday the 36-year-old defender hopes to write another glorious chapter in his remarkable career as he attempts to end a relative championship drought when LDF face Majantja.

The army side, without a league title since 2004, know a win could hand them a record-breaking ninth league crown.

Going into the final match, LDF find themselves one point behind Lioli.

Even though Lioli hold all the aces Pheko is refusing to give up hope.

“It’s not over yet. No team has won the league,” he says.

“No one can claim to have won anything because there is one match still to go. Anything can happen.”

Standing in the way of any victory parade will be Majantja, two-time league winners but now battling to stay in the top-flight division.

“It will be difficult,” Pheko says.

“Majantja are one of Lesotho’s big teams and they will be going into the game to fight relegation.

“We are going into the game to fight for the league, so it will be a tough match.

“At the end of the day it will come down to who has the luck on the day.

“We won’t have that pressure to win (because) if Lioli beat Joy they will be champions.”

For LDF the last 20 years have been defined by success, having singularly dominated the game from 1997 to 1999.

“There is no special formula,” Pheko says.

“One thing I would say is that we are here (at LDF) to work, so that gives us an advantage.

“But the biggest thing is discipline. When it comes to discipline we are ahead of other teams in the league.

 “That discipline has helped me get where I am and I’m grateful to all those who have helped me.”

Now, if everything goes according to plan, LDF could eclipse Matlama as Lesotho’s most successful side.

“It will be a big achievement, not just for me but to everyone at LDF,” Pheko says.

“For me it will be the same as my first title, but you have to leave room for disappointment.”

Pheko also praises LDF’s management team.

“They have worked very well,” Pheko says.

Playing as a sweeper for LDF this season, Pheko has marshalled a defence that — the 3-0 loss to Lioli aside — has turned defence into an art form, conceding just 12 goals all season.

“If you look at the log then you can see that we have conceded the least goals in the league,” he says.

“I guide them (the defence). The good thing is that they listen and they work together.”

According to Pheko the Lioli result was a blip that was rectified in LDF’s 3-0 win over LCS last week.

“I’m not a person who cries about referees but in that Lioli game after we lost (Mojela) Letsie the team lapsed,” Pheko says.

“But after that match we talked. It’s a big lesson to the players and a good lesson.”

Win or lose on Saturday, Pheko hopes this will be the start of another LDF dominance.

“The team of 97, 98 and 99 was the greatest team I have ever played in,” Pheko says.

“Maybe in two or three years’ time this team can get to that level.

“I still feel strong enough to continue. But there is also that feeling that I have to step aside and give the young players a chance.

“But that will be down to the coaching staff and the management.”

Whatever the case there is one more match to tackle for this Lesotho legend this weekend.

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