Lioli have a mountain to climb

Lioli have a mountain to climb

MASERU  – The first legs of the 2018 Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 quarterfinals produced some fireworks and interesting results. While some teams celebrated and grabbed the upper hand heading into next week’s second leg games, others endured embarrassing defeats. Here are a few things we noticed this past weekend:

1. Lioli look disjointed

The defending LNIG Top 8 champions were left to rue missed chances in their 1-0 quarterfinal first leg loss to Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) on Saturday at the Maputsoe DIFA Stadium.
‘Tse Nala’ had an opportunity to take an early lead from the penalty spot but Tebelo Mofokeng woefully missed the chance. Lioli were made to pay for their wastefulness when ‘Simunye’ took the lead in the second half and held on to give themselves the marginal advantage heading into the second leg at the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Ground next weekend.
A second half red card for Khotso Tšolo made matters worse for the Teyateyaneng giants who had to play with 10 men for the majority of the second half as they chased the game.

The loss was the latest in what has been a string of disappointments since Morena Ramorebodi took over as coach at the beginning of January. Things haven’t gone down well since the South African coach arrived.
Since Ramorebodi took charge Lioli have only won once in five mat

ches – a 1-0 league win over Liphakoe two weeks ago – and the defeat to LMPS only heightened growing discontent amongst ‘Tse Nala’ supporters who could not hide their frustrations towards the coach.

Lioli’s bench at the Maputsoe DiFA Stadium was seated right in front of fans and they hurled non-stop insults towards Ramorebodi.
Some accused him of dismissing their favourite players, some said they want the coach gone, others claimed the team was in better shape under Motebang Makhetha who stepped into caretaker charge after Halemakale Mahlaha jumped ship in October.

Although Ramorebodi did not respond to the unruly supporters behind him, he was visibly angry.
Lioli revamped their squad in January bringing in six new faces and releasing seven players. So far, however, the changes have not worked and supporters are displeased fan favourite Motlalepula Mofolo was shown the door while the promising Tankiso Tabi was sent out on loan.
To proceed to the semi-finals ‘Tse Nala’ need a two-goal victory over LMPS in the second leg. It is something they are capable of but which looks impossible with the way things are going.

2. Kick4Life Academy producing future stars

Kick4Life’s academy juniors knocked the ball around with confidence and daring as they condemned Matlama’s reserves to a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their Under-17 LNIG Top 8 quarterfinal – the youth tournament which is running concurrently to the senior showpiece. It is not the quality of the goals the young boys scored which captured everyone’s attention at the Maputsoe DiFA Stadium; it was their skills, control of the ball and movement that caught the eye.
Kick4Life is a club that prides itself on using football to inspire kids and youths throughout the country.
Well, last Saturday Kick4Life’s kids showed a lot of potential. They played like a team of friends who knew each other’s weaknesses and they were always there to cover for one another.
With the way Matlama’s reserves played, ‘Tse Putsoa’ have a mountain to club if they were to overturn the two-goal deficit Kick4Life enjoy.

3. LDF’s shambolic display

LCS handed LDF their heaviest defeat of the season on Sunday as ‘Masheshena’ put five goals past the Ratjomose outfit without an answer. This one looks done and dusted.
The 5-0 humiliation was met with anger from LDF coach Motheo Mohapi who criticised his players for lacking discipline and labelled the display “the worst game they have ever played”. However, despite being five goals down, Mohapi still believes the tie is not over yet.

4. Kick4Life vs. Matlama second leg not be missed

Both teams gave fans a performance worth their money. It was a game not short of chances or dubious officiating and, despite the 1-0 final result to Kick4Life, the game could have gone either.

In a pulsating tie, Bonang Mohapi gave Leslie Notši’s team the lead in the first half after defensive blunders by ‘Tse Putsoa’.
Nkoto Masoabi nearly doubled the lead but was upended by Matlama goalkeeper Monaheng Ramalefane. However, instead of being awarded a penalty, Masoabi was booked for simulation, a decision that sparked anger from Kick4Life’s bench, players and supporters.
However, that was not the only decision that went against Notši and his charges; there was another case of handball which was ignored by match officials. As Matlama were piling on pressure looking for an equaliser, Kick4Life were dealt a blow when Mokoteli Mohapi was shown straight red card for a reckless tackle on striker Lebajoa Mosehlanyane. Kick4Life held on to take a 1-0 advantage going into the second leg but this tie is far from being decided.

5. Bantu redeem themselves

After being painfully dumped out of the CAF Champions League last Wednesday by Swaziland champions Mbabane Swallows on the away goals rule, ‘A Matšo Matebele’ were back in business on Sunday and continued that their dominance in Lesotho football as they brushed aside minnows Sky Battalion in a 2-1 victory.
Bantu are favourites to win this year’s LNIG Top 8 and they have an easier route to the semi-finals compared to the other main contenders.

Luciah Phahla & Nkheli Liphoto

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