Lioli draw first blood in derby

Lioli draw first blood in derby

MASERU – Lioli have drawn first blood in their epic battle with Bantu for Econet Premier League supremacy thanks to Sunday’s gripping 1-0 win over ‘A Matšo Matebele’ at Setsoto Stadium.
The match was blockbuster with Setsoto packed to its brink and, for Lioli fans, Sunday ended as the happiest day of their year.
2018 has certainly been an unusually challenging one in Lioli’s recent successful history.

The five-time champions ended last season without silverware, something their fans hadn’t experienced since 2012, and at the end of the campaign ‘Tse Nala’ parted ways with Morena Ramorebodi and brought in 2013 league-winning coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana to mastermind a revival.

When the Teyateyaneng giants lost 2-1 to Kick4Life in their season opener two weekends ago, Lioli fans may have feared the worst.
However, beating your biggest rivals can kick-start a season and, apart from pure joy, the prevailing emotion from Lioli’s jubilant fans on Sunday must have been relief.
Relief was definitely painted on the faces of Lioli’s technical team and ‘Tse Nala’ assistant coach Mosholu Mokhothu lauded the inspiration of their fans in helping secure a potentially momentum gaining win.

“We are happy to get this support because Lioli cannot play well without the fans, that is why we sign players that will handle pressure from the fans,” Mokhothu said.
“If a player does not entertain and satisfy the fans that will be a problem.”

Entertain the players did, and in the process they exorcised some demons against their Mafeteng rivals.
Sunday’s triumph was Lioli’s first league win over Bantu on the field since a 1-0 victory in February 2012 and the recent drought against ‘A Matšo Matebele’ was beginning to weigh heavily on ‘Tse Nala’.

Recent Premier League winners:
2012 – Lesotho Correctional Services
2013 – Lioli
2014 – Bantu
2015 – Lioli
2016 – Lioli
2017 – Bantu
2018 – Bantu

Bantu and Lioli have dominated the league for the past six years and such a win, secured by captain Mafa Moremoholo’s late moment of brilliance, may prove as important psychologically as is it on the points table.

Mokhothu admitted the significance of the result and said the technical staff made a point to also address the players’ mental approach ahead of facing Bantu.
“We are happy because we tried to be clam when approaching the game, we even sat down with our players and engaged in dialogue because Bantu was all over our heads,” Mokhothu said.
“We lost in our opening game (against Kick4Life) and we did not want to lose two games in a row that is why it was crucial to win this game against Bantu, hot or cold.”
The result lifts Lioli to seventh place in the league and they now march forward to meet Sefotha-fotha on Saturday at Setsoto.

“Our next game against will be against Sefotha-fotha and what is important is for us to sit down and plan. We need to have good finishing so that we score and get three points,” Mokhothu said.
For Bantu, though, this is not a good start to their title defence.

After dropping two points on the opening weekend against Sefotha-fotha, losing to rivals Lioli is a bitter pill to swallow.
‘A Matšo Matebele’ coach James Madidilane cut a disappointed figure after his side’s loss.

He bemoaned the chances his side missed – a worrying theme from Bantu’s first two games this season – and insisted the champions deserved something from Sunday’s loss.
“The game went well, I don’t remember Lioli showing danger until that free kick when our defence lost concentration and we conceded goal in the last minutes of the game,” he said.
Bantu’s attempts to change the game also didn’t work out, Madidilane added.

“There were changes that we made which were tactical changes when taking out Litšepe Marabe and Neo Mokhachane and bringing in Tsebang Lebata and Mokone Marabe,” he said.
“We could see that Lioli was not threatening us. We wanted to stretch them by playing with three strikers but it did not work the way we planned,” he added.
On Saturday, Bantu face Lesotho Defence Force and all of sudden it is a must-win game if the two-time defending champions are not to fall behind in the Econet Premier League title race.
Weekend Econet Premier League fixtures:

Saturday
Lioli vs. Sefotha-fotha (13:00, Setsoto Stadium)
LDF vs. Bantu (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)
LMPS vs. Kick4Life (15:00, PTC)

Sunday
LCS vs. Majantja (13:00, Setsoto Stadium)
Liphakoe vs. Galaxy (15:00, Quthing Pitso Ground)
Linare vs. Swallows (15:00, DiFA Maputsoe)
Matlama vs. Likhopo (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)

Nkheli Liphoto

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Next Bad season for Likhopo?

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