Early questions for Lioli

Early questions for Lioli

MASERU – It is a new Econet Premier League season but some things stay the same.
On Sunday, Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) maintained their hoodoo hold over Lioli with a 1-0 mugging at the LCS Ground to continue a dominance of ‘Tse Nala’ that now stretches three years.

The win puts an early spanner in the works for Lioli who came into this season with high hopes under new coach Thabile Secker especially after their preseason Econet Soccer Spectacular triumph just two weeks ago.
However, instead of an opening weekend celebration, there are early worries in Teyateyaneng and questions if this team can really win Lioli’s first league crown since 2016.

Secker himself was at a loss for words after the defeat to LCS and he ruefully bemoaned bad luck for his side’s defeat.
Things would have been different – Secker said – if new Lioli signing Tsietsi Motšeare had been available.
The speedy striker joined ‘Tse Nala’ from Bantu in the offseason as part of a high-profile swap with Tšoanelo Koetle but he was missing on Sunday because of a family bereavement.

“Motšeare was not available due to family commitments, he lost his brother and, of course, we are giving him all the support he needs. We are expecting him to be back and (I) believe he would have made a difference but we have to trust the players we have,” Secker said.
Maybe Motšeare would have made a difference but at some stage Lioli will also have to overcome this ‘Masheshena’ hoodoo.

The last time ‘Tse Nala’ registered a win over LCS was in March 2016 with a scrappy 1-0 victory.
To put the misery into perspective: four coaches – Halemakale Mahlaha, Morena Ramorebodi, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana and now Secker – have failed to solve this LCS riddle that is sabotaging Lioli’s hopes on a yearly basis.

Lioli’s recent league record against LCS:
2019/20

LCS 1-0 Lioli

2018/19

LCS 0-0 Lioli

Lioli 0-1 LCS

2017/18

LCS 1-0 Lioli

Lioli 1-1 LCS

2016/17

Lioli 0-0 LCS

LCS 1-0 Lioli

2015/16

Lioli 1-0 LCS

LCS 0-0 Lioli

2014/15

Lioli 1-1 LCS

LCS 0-2 Lioli

Another riddle Secker has to solve quickly is Lioli’s apparent lack of firepower, a carryover from last season’s disappointing Econet Premiership campaign in which ‘Tse Nala’ finished seventh.

Lioli’s next four games:
22 September – Lioli v Kick4Life

28 September – Swallows v Lioli

13 October – Lioli v Bantu

19 October – Matlama v Lioli

On Sunday, LCS struck early through Keketso Snyders but despite having the rest of the game to come up with an answer, Lioli couldn’t break Masheshena down.
Secker’s side took ten shots at goal after halftime but still returned to TY empty-handed.

Last season Lioli scored just 28 goals in 26 games and Sunday’s blanks raise the question if ‘Tse Nala’ adequately addressed their frontline issues in the offseason.
A lot still depends on Cameroonian striker Swithbert Kum Bin who again led Lioli’s line against LCS and is the side’s only proven goalscorer at the elite level.

Tumelo Makha and Diutlwileng Boikanyo are exciting attacking talents but are not natural goalscorers and, without Motšeare, ‘Tse Nala’ simply didn’t have the required cutting edge against LCS.
Can Lioli muster enough offence over the course of a season to mount a credible title challenge?

Secker said it is an issue ‘Tse Nala’ have discussed.
“It is something we have been working on all these weeks (in the preseason) but if you don’t have luck, you don’t,” Secker said.
“On the field there are things we can agree on but when there is no consistency things like this happen.”

Lioli’s next two league games are against Kick4Life and Swallows. After that they are scheduled to face Bantu and Matlama.
‘Tse Nala’ will have to get on track fast.
“Our target is to be among the top four teams in December when we go for the Christmas break,” Secker insisted. “We have plenty of time to get things in order.”

Around the league:
LCS’s win over Lioli was not the only talking point because the return of the Econet Premier League was everything fans had hoped for.
The opening weekend had drama, excitement, frustration and immediately sparked debates on social media amongst fans.

A total of 18 goals were scored with only one game producing a goalless draw – the always edgy meeting of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) on Sunday.
That game apart, every other match produced goals and champions Matlama led the way with a 6-0 mauling of Swallows on Saturday at Setsoto Stadium.
Lesotho national coach Thabo Senong was in attendance and he was also at the LCS Ground on Sunday.
It is safe to say several players grabbed their chance to impress him.

For Matlama, their crushing of Swallows was a statement of intent under new coach Charles Manda with Jane Thaba-Ntšo, Khoanyane Mokoena, Mabuti Potloane and Lisema Lebokollane all getting their names on the score-sheet.
2017 and 2018 league winners, Bantu, will fiercely challenge Matlama for the title and they also launched their season with an important result, a 2-0 victory over the always dangerous Sefotha-fotha on Saturday at Setsoto.

Even with a long-term injury to one of their most influential players in Lindokuhle Phungulwa, ‘A Matšo Matebele’ comfortably collected all three points, thanks to goals from Hlompho Kalake and Lazola Jokojokwane.
It was also a happy weekend for Katiso Mojakhomo as his Kick4Life side beat Liphakoe 2-1 to begin his reign as coach with a win.
Elsewhere, Likhopo were made to sweat buckets for their point against newly-promoted Lijabatho. ‘The Red Army’ came back from two goals down to draw the game 2-2 thanks to a brace by Santi Ntšohi.

Opening weekend results:
Bantu 2-0 Sefotha-fotha
Swallows 0-6 Matlama
Kick4Life 2-1 Liphakoe
LCS 1-0 Lioli
LDF 0-0 LMPS
Lifofane 0-1 Linare
Lijabatho 2-2 Likhopo

Tlalane Phahla

 

Previous Table tennis squad picked
Next Matlama, Bantu tie postponed

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