Battle lines drawn

Battle lines drawn

Maseru – The battle lines have been drawn between Bantu and Lioli as the juggernauts prepare to collide in a potential Vodacom Premier League decider on Sunday at Setsoto Stadium.

Bantu go into the game in first place with 43 points from 19 games while champions Lioli are sniffing on their coattails with 41 points from 18 games.
‘A Matšo Matebele’, who were the last team to hold the title before Lioli’s two-year reign, are looking to extend their lead at the summit with less than a third of the season to go.
If recent history between the two teams is anything to go by, Bantu should fancy their chances.

The Mafeteng giants are unbeaten in 10 league games against Lioli, a run that stretches all the way back to February 2012.
However, speaking yesterday, Bantu head coach James Madidilane insisted “history does not play football”.
Madidilane also disagreed with the notion that matching Bantu in midfield was the key to beating them.

“We would be fools if we can base ourselves on what history says,” the South Africa born coach said.
“Lioli are defending champions, they are a strong team and they are in the top three behind us followed by Kick4Life.”
He continued: “I don’t agree that if a team can match our midfield they can win the game because I think we are strong in all departments, from the goalkeeper to number 11. It depends on the approach and desire, and I think we need this more than them.”

Madidilane said Bantu are going into this game to collect nothing but maximum points.
He said he believes if his players are on-form on the day, there is nothing Lioli can do to stop them.
“We do have a strong midfield and our style is more of a combinational play. If on the day my players are on-form, there is nothing Lioli can do to stop us and I believe if we can win on Sunday it will give us a good chance in the title race,” Madidilane stated.

In the opposite corner, Lioli head coach Halemakale Mahlaha is singing a different tune.
Mahlaha said he believes the team that will take their chances will emerge victorious.

However, he agreed with Madidilane that the fight in the middle of the park will not be decisive because tactics can change.
“The tactical approach will definitely be different to the other games we have played,” Mahlaha said.

“In the first round we studied them. As much as we have a strong midfield and they do as well, I don’t think the team that will control the midfield will win; I think the team that will score goals will win. Yes, in the midfield that’s where the fight is, but you know teams change in each game. In addition, some teams don’t only play in the midfield, they play wide and directly up-front,” he said.

Mahlaha also refused to rule Kick4Life out of the title race saying any slip-ups by the top two would give Leslie Notši’s charges a chance to topple them.
However, he insisted that, as defending champions, it is Lioli’s job to defend their championship. Mahlaha said that starts with disposing of Bantu at what is sure to be a packed Setsoto.

“I don’t agree that Kick4Life is out of the title race, there are still games yet to be played and if we don’t do well in our own games, it will give them a chance,” Mahlaha stressed.
“But, we are focusing on Bantu now. For us to defend our title we have to beat them on Sunday.”

Sunday’s clash will have added significance because it will see Bantu begin their 90th anniversary celebrations.
The go-getting Mafeteng club have invited South African actor Cornet Mamabolo who plays ‘Tbose’ in popular SABC 1 soapie Skeem Saam as well as Muvhango actress Bontle Sithole who plays the role of Busi Motsamai to add flavour to what promises to be a mouth-watering Sunday feast.

Weekend Fixtures:
Saturday 11th March
Rovers v Butha-Buthe Warriors (15:00, Roma)
Linare v Kick4Life (15:00, Maputsoe DiFA Stadium)
Matlama v Likhopo (15:00, Maseru)

Sunday 12th March
LCS v LMPS (15:00, LCS)
Bantu v Lioli (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)
Liphakoe v Sundawana (15:00, Quthing)
LDF v Sky Battalion (15:00, Ratjomose)

Luciah Phahla

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