LNIG Top 8 roars into life

LNIG Top 8 roars into life

Maseru – The much anticipated Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 roars into life this weekend with mouth-watering quarter-final clashes at Setsoto Stadium.
It is not often fans can watch Lioli, Bantu and Matlama at the same venue in one day but this Saturday the LNIG Top 8 is bringing the giants together in a double delight for one price.
Struggling Likhopo will kick-start proceedings by facing the competition’s defending champions Lioli at lunchtime before the much talked about main dish between Matlama and Bantu following soon after.

The intriguing first leg tie between the prides of Maseru and Mafeteng is a rematch of an entertaining league encounter at the beginning of the year.
On that day Matlama emerged 1-0 victors, something ‘A Matšo Matebele’ head coach James Madidilane has not forgotten.

Speaking yesterday, Madidilane said although that loss is now water under the bridge, Bantu are not prepared to take any prisoners in this two-legged contest against Matlama.
“We just failed to take our chances in our last meeting against Matlama,” he insisted. “Had we converted all our chances we could have won but that game has passed, now we are going into a cup game which is totally different from a league game, even the way we prepare is different.”

On top of their recent win in the sides’ last meeting, Matlama also go into Saturday’s clash buoyed by an 8-0 rout of Butha-Buthe Warriors in the league game last weekend but Madidilane was unmoved.

“It is good for them and I am happy that they come highly motivated into this game after winning this past weekend with a big score-line,” he said. “But, Bantu is a big team; our aim is to proceed to the next round.”

‘A Matšo Matebele’ are, of course, on a high themselves.  Bantu are top of the league and on course for the club’s first-ever league and cup double in Madidilane’s debut season in charge. The South African mentor admitted expectations had grown in Mafeteng but said the focus should be on being in a good position for the second leg in Mafeteng at the end of the month. “There is pressure on players, there is pressure on the technical team but if we can keep on thinking about winning the double, we will put ourselves under pressure,” he said.
He added: “We are going to take one game at a time. We are playing away; we have to make sure we don’t concede goals. Maybe if we can reach the final, then we can start thinking about the double.”

Madidilane warned his charges to be prepared for a tough encounter against Matlama saying his counterpart Seepheephe Matete is already plotting their downfall.
For his part, the former Lesotho caretaker boss acknowledged the stakes are high as the LNIG Top 8 is Matlama’s last chance to claim silverware this season. ‘Tse Putsoa’ haven’t won a trophy since capturing the league in 2010 and the drought is starting to reach alarming proportions for Lesotho’s most successful club.

“This is our last hope for silverware this season,” Matete confessed. “Like I said before, the league is gone; we can only look to finish in a respectable position. This weekend we have to play like it is our only chance (to win silverware), we have to show it in the field.” Matlama have the slight mental advantage of winning the last three meetings against Bantu but Matete said this cup tie will be decided by which teams wins the midfield battle.“Our win (over Butha-Buthe the Warriors) motivated us and gave us confidence because we scored a lot of goals, but Bantu needs to be countered in the middle of the field, that is where they are very strong,” Matete said.

“We have to match them in the middle. They have good midfield players, so do we. This game will be won in the middle.”
On Sunday the LNIG Top 8 action will move to the Maputsoe DiFA Stadium where the day’s play will be started by two debutants when Lick4Life play host to Sundawana.
In the second game of the day Lesotho Defence Force will take on Lesotho Correctional Service as the chase for the LNIG Top 8’s M100 000 grand prize begins.

LNIG Top 8 quarterfinal fixtures:
First legs
Saturday (Setsoto Stadium)
Likhopo vs. Lioli (13:00)
Matlama vs. Bantu (15:00)
Sunday (Maputsoe DiFA Ground)
Kick4Life vs. Sundawana (13:00)
LCS vs. LDF (15:00)

Second legs
Saturday, 25 February
LCS vs. LDF (13:00, LCS)
Kick4Life vs. Sundawana (15:00, LCS)
Sunday, 26 February
Bantu vs. Matlama (15:00, Leshoboro Sports Complex)
Lioli vs. Likhopo (15:00, LCS)

Luciah Phahla

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