Battle lines are drawn

Battle lines are drawn

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

The Lioli and Matlama camps have drawn the battle lines ahead of Saturday’s judgement day with Lioli coach Mosholi Mokhothu insisting ‘TseNala’ are not under pressure and Matlama boss Moses Maliehe saying he is “100 percent confident of winning the title”.

It is the finale fans have been wishing for and the rivals couldn’t be any closer.

Going into Saturday’s deciding round of Vodacom Premier League games, Lioli lead Matlama by a just point.

Lioli, however, have the destiny of the championship in their hands because a win over Linare would secure back-to-back titles, regardless of what Matlama do against Kick4Life.

So, despite seeing their lead cut to an uncomfortable point thanks to last Saturday’s surprise goalless draw with Rovers, Lioli mentor Mokhothu insisted the champions are not under pressure.

He admitted nothing but a win will do against Linare but he reiterated that Lioli are unconcerned about what Matlama do.

“We are focused on Linare and we want to win that game. We are not looking at what Matlama is doing, we are not under pressure. I would like to thank my players because we collected points when it matters the most at the beginning of the season and right now we just want to defend our title that’s all, because it is our title. People may think we are under pressure or stumbling but we are not. It’s part of the game, we are just focused on our game,” Mokhothu stressed.

Mokhothu did bemoan the chances Lioli missed in their stalemate with Rovers and said ‘TseNala’ are working on their finishing to ensure there isn’t a repeat in Saturday’s league decider.

“I think it goes with a bit of luck and luck was not on our side against Rovers, in football you also need luck. Our preparations were on point, we stuck to our game-plan and played well but we were unlucky,” he said.

“(Rovers) defended in numbers. They sat at the back and they were not attacking us at all. We got chances that we should have buried and won the game but, like I said, luck was not on our side this past weekend. Those are things that we are already working on to make sure it doesn’t happen again in our last game this weekend. We need to convert all our chances,” Mokhothu emphasised.

Mokhothu also refused to be drawn on Matlama’s chances.

“I coach Lioli. All I know is that we are working hard to win the league, I don’t know about Matlama if they can win it. I am focused on Lioli,” he insisted.

On the other hand, Matlama coach Moses Maliehe said he remain confident of winning the title.

“I am 100 percent confident that we can win the league, and I hope we will win against Kick4Life. Our target in this remainder of the season was to win all our nine games. We won seven and lost against Lioli, and now we are left with Kick4Life,” he said.

“I have always said we want to win all our remaining games so we can be in better position to win the league, we are still aiming to do that this weekend.”

Maliehe also played down suggestions Lioli failed to beat Rovers because they felt the pressure. However, he said the team that best handles Saturday’s pressure will win the Vodacom Premier League.

“Pressure is everywhere, every team is under pressure and we also have our own pressure but what matters the most is how you handle it. If you look at it mathematically, Lioli still stands a better chance of winning, they are ahead of us on goal difference which means if we draw they will still win it,” Maliehe stated.

“However, if they draw or lose their game and Matlama wins their game then we win the league. How you handle pressure is the most important thing because it is everywhere.”

 

Possible Line-ups:

Lioli vs. Linare

Lioli: Makhooane, Moremoholo, Sello, Tseka, Makepe ©, Koetle, Lekhanya, Kamela, Nkoto, Moletsane, Sonopo

Linare: Phasumane, Napo C, Sello, Basia, Maoela, Lebenya, Billy, Khubetsoana, Molapi, Leboneng, Letlatsa

Matlama vs. Kick4Life

Matlama: Thakeli, Molulela, Rankhasa, Mohai, Ramathe, Mahula, Potloane, Makhutla, Sera, Tšosane ©, Thaba-Ntšo

Kick4Life: Thetsane, Pitso, Mphosi, Mukete, Thamahane ©, Mopeli, Ntoya-Malonga, Ramafikeng, Brown, Chabeli, Makoanyane

Final day trivia:

  • The destination of the title has not been decided so late in the season since 2010/11 when LCS beat LDF on the final day of the campaign
  • Lioli are unbeaten in the league since November1, 2015 when they lost 3-1 to Bantu. It is a run of 18 matches
  • Lioli have only lost twice in their last 55 Vodacom Premier League matches. Since losing to Linare on April 13, 2014, Lioli have only lost to Matlama (October 19, 2014) and Bantu (November 1, 2015)
  • Lioli haven’t lost to a team in the bottom half of the league since 2013 ( a 1-0 loss away to Nyenye Rovers on December 1, 2013)
  • Matlama have the league’s best offence with 42 goals in 25 matches. They have only failed to score in five games this season.
  • A win for Matlama would give them an unprecedented tenth league crown, two more than the next best haul, Lesotho Defence Force’s eight
  • Likila will be relegated if they fail to beat Mphatlalatsane on Saturday. Likila are two points adrift of 12th-placed Rovers

Weekend fixtures:

Saturday

Matlama v Kick4Life (15:00, Maseru)

Lioli v Linare (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)

LDF v Bantu (15:00, Ratjomose)

LMPS v Likhopo (15:00, PTC)

Liphakoe v Rovers (15:00, Quthing)

Likila United v Mphatlalatsane (15:00, Butha-Buthe)

LCS v Sandawana (15:00, LCS)

 

Vodacom Premier League Table

 

    P W D L GF GA GD Pts.
1 Lioli 25 16 8 1 38 10 28 56
2 Matlama 25 17 4 4 42 22 20 55
3 LCS 25 12 7 6 24 14 10 43
4 Sandawana 25 12 5 8 27 25 2 41
5 Likhopo 24 9 9 6 27 19 8 36
6 LDF 25 8 10 7 23 20 3 34
7 Kick4Life 24 8 10 6 21 21 0 34
8 Bantu 25 9 6 10 26 21 5 33
9 LMPS 25 6 11 8 25 28 -3 29
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