Lioli to defend title

Lioli to defend title

MASERU – Defending champions Lioli will kick-off this year’s Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 with a mouth-watering quarterfinal first leg tie against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) on Saturday.
The encounter is part of a tasty double header at the Maputsoe DiFA Stadium with Matlama battling Kick4Life afterwards in a clash of two of 2018’s form teams.

On Sunday, the remaining two quarterfinal first legs will be staged at the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Ground with pre-tournament favourites Bantu facing outsiders Sky Battalion and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) locking horns with rivals LCS.
The weekend’s action is the perfect way to launch Lesotho’s richest cup competition with R800 000 in total prize money up for grabs.
This year the champions will go home R100 000 richer.

For Lioli the LNIG Top 8 – more than the awaiting pot of gold – may represent their best and last chance of winning silverware this season.
The Independence Cup was taken by Bantu last October and ‘A Matšo Matebele’ also boast a seven-point lead over Lioli in the Econet Premier League with nine games to play.

The last time ‘Tse Nala’ finished a season without a trophy was in the 2011/12 campaign.
Thankfully for supporters of Teyateyaneng giants, their heroes face LMPS with their morale boosted by a hard-fought 1-0 league victory over Majantja last weekend sealed by a Kopano Tseka winner.
The win was Lioli’s first in four matches under South African Morena Ramorebodi and another triumph on Saturday would put Lioli in the driver’s seat against LMPS.
The game of the weekend, however, is the clash between Matlama and Kick4Life.
And, in what is sure to add more spice to the clash, both teams will be looking to bounce back after defeats in the league last weekend to Likhopo and LCS respectively.

With Matlama desperate to end a trophy drought that dates back to 2010, ‘Tse Putsoa’ coach Mosito Matela acknowledged cup games offer a unique challenge.

“It is well known that league games are different from cup finals or tournaments,” he said.
“We will try to change our approaches looking at the nature of our opponent. It is going to be a tough game.”
For his part, Kick4Life head coach Leslie Notši confirmed attacking starlet Khubetsoana Kamela will miss the tie as he is expected to remain sidelined for three more weeks.

Kick4Life’s medical team is also sweating over the fitness of Sele Thetsane who was injured over the weekend.
“The aim is to go all out and score as many (goals) as we can,” Notši said.

“All I have to do is to encourage the boys. We have to work hard in training in terms of goalscoring and creating chances and, at the same time, defensively we need to be spot on to avoid conceding early in the match. We have to make sure we do well in defence and see to it that we give ourselves something to take from the first leg,” he said.

While Matlama and Kick4Life will be engaged in a heavyweight battle, Bantu are the luckiest team in the LNIG Top 8 quarterfinals having been paired against a struggling Sky Battalion team that hasn’t won a game all season.
In the weekend’s final tie, LDF and LCS meet in a repeat of last year’s draw where ‘Masheshena’ eliminated the Ratjomose side at the same stage of the tournament.

LDF, trophyless since 2008, will surely be looking for revenge.

LNIG Top 8 quarterfinals:
Saturday:
Maputsoe DIFA Ground
Lioli vs. LMPS (13:00, Under-17 09:00)
Matlama vs. Kick4Life (15:00, Under-17 10:30)

Sunday
LCS Ground
Sky Battalion vs. Bantu (13:00, Under-17 09:00)
LDF vs. LCS (15:30, Under-17 10:30)

Nkheli Liphoto

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