Lioli begins to turn on the style

Lioli begins to turn on the style

Luciah Phahla

Maseru – Lioli head coach Halamakale Mahlaha says his players are beginning to adapt to his style of play.
Mahlaha was speaking to thepost after Lioli’s Independence Cup victory at Setsoto Stadium last weekend.
Lioli edged Matlama 1-0 in the final to be crowned champions. They also walked away with a whopping M150 000 in prize money in the tournament sponsored by Standard Lesotho Bank and Metropolitan Lesotho.
The trophy comes just two months after Mahlaha was hastily appointed as Lioli coach to replace Mosholi Mokhothu as the latter failed to meet the new coaching license requirements set by the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA).
Mahlaha’s rein did not start well. Three days after he was announced as coach Lioli lost their opening game of the premiership season, 1-0 to Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS). And after Lioli fell to seventh after their third game, Mahlaha was subjected to criticism from fans disgruntled at the team’s lack of goals and panache.
However, Lioli slowly turned things around and were riding a three-match win streak in the league heading into the Independence Cup. A delighted Mahlaha lauded his team’s change in fortunes.
“We went into the (Independence Cup) Top 4 with a changed performance, I think now the players are comfortable and have adapted to my style of play. The Top 4 has brought faith again, their confidence is now high,” Mahlaha said on Tuesday.
Lioli won the Independence Cup with two contrasting games. In the semi-final Lioli brushed aside Sundawana 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Tšepo Lekhooana and a first goal for the club for Moshoeshoe Setho.

The final, however, was a completely different affair that was only decided late in the second half by a Tšoanelo Koetle strike.
Mahlaha said the two games required different tactical approaches.
“Against Sundawana the thing we took advantage of was that it was their first time in a cup game if I am not mistaken, hence we scored a lot of goals. The approach was different in the Matlama game. Matlama is a big team and very experienced, they have played in many cup games before so we had to approach the game differently,” Mahlaha explained.
After their enjoyable Independence success, Lioli are back to league business this weekend when they travel to Roma to face Rovers who are second from bottom in the Vodacom Premier League.

Mahlaha warned Lioli cannot afford to be complacent. He said his players need to forget this past weekend’s celebrations and focus on the task ahead.
“It is my job to work on player’s mental fitness and make sure they are fit for the game against Rovers,” Mahlaha emphasised adding he will shake up Lioli’s line-up.
“We are going to make a few changes this weekend because you can’t take the same team that played in the Independence Cup, they could still be in celebratory mood, so two or three (new) players will neutralise the team. Even Rovers would look at us and think ‘they are still in celebratory mood’ and we cannot afford that,” Mahlaha said.
Having had two months to work with Lioli’s star studded side, Mahlaha also commended the quality and commitment in the ‘Tse Nala’ squad. He declared confidence the champions would successfully defend their league title.

Mahlaha said the strength of Lioli’s squad allows him endless options.
“I think the quality of players we have is very high and when we prepare for games we are able to identify players that can make things happen for us for that particular game,” Mahlaha said.
“We can look at a player and say he can help us in this game, so that allows us to identify the best approach. For example, the game against Rovers, when we meet today to train, we are going to identify the players that can do well for us,” Mahlaha explained.
“I am very confident that we will win the league,” he added. “The way we are working, and the way the players conduct themselves. You can use anyone and get the same results. For example, we have been without key players for a month now such as (Jerry) Kamela and (Bokang) Sello and the people that have filled in their positions have been doing very well which means when (Kamela and Sello) come back they have to work hard to get back into the team. The competition is high.”

Champions: Lioli M150 000

Runner-ups: Matlama M60 000

Third Place: LCS M40 000

Fourth place: Sundawana M30 00

Individual Awards:

Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Liteboho Mokhehle (M2 000)

Top goal scorer: Tšepo Lekhooana (M2 500)

Player of the Tournament: Bushy Moletsane (M3 000)

Referee of the Tournament: Lebalang Mokete (M2 000)

Assistant referee of the Tournament: Mapoho Mapoho (M2 000)

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