Mahlaha rallies his troops
Maseru – The grass is set to suffer when two local juggernauts collide this weekend in the Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 semi-finals at Setsoto Stadium.
Bantu and Lioli will lock horns on Saturday fighting for spot in the final against either Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) or Kick4Life.
The final is scheduled to take place on Sunday with the winner set to walk away with the M100 000 grand prize while the runners-up will get M80 000.
While many believe Lioli go into the game as underdogs after a 2-1 defeat to Bantu in the league three weeks ago, head coach Halemakale Mahlaha disagrees.
Mahlaha insisted cup ties are different to league games and present a different challenge for both teams.
“We are more focused this time around,” Mahlaha said.
“We want to beat Bantu and use every chance we get to score a goal. What we need to do is avoid the mistakes we made in the last game where Bantu caught us off guard. Every chance we get we have to use it.”
“I don’t think we are underdogs coming into this game,” the Lioli tactician added. “We are in same bracket (as Bantu) in the league, even in this tournament. But, if you are basing yourself on this past game where we lost, yes, we could look like underdogs.”
Mahlaha said his charges are handling the expectation that comes with such big occasions well. He said he does not think his players will struggle come crunch-time because they are used to pressure situations, both locally and internationally in the CAF Champions League and with the national side.
Star player Jerry Kamela, however, remains doubtful for Lioli after sustaining an injury while on national team duty last week in Mozambique.
Mahlaha said Kamela is under the watchful eye of Lioli’s medical team and could yet feature on Saturday.
“Jerry is the only player (that is) doubtful. Remember, he got an injury against Mozambique but he is recovering,” he said.
“I think by Friday we will be able to tell if he will be available this weekend or not.”
Mahlaha emphasised that Lioli are determined to defend their LNIG Top 8 and league titles.
That quest begins on Saturday.
“We have worked on all the mistakes we made that cost us three points against Bantu (in the league),” he said. The weekend’s LNIG Top 8 finals menu will also see the climax of the Under-17 tournament which will serve as the curtain raiser for the main course on both Saturday and Sunday.
The winners of the Under-17 category will bag M10 000 with the runners-up getting M8 000. The last four clubs standings in the competition are Matlama, Lioli, Kick4Life and Lesotho Defence Force.
LNIG Top 8 fixtures:
LCS vs. Kick4Life (13:00)
Bantu vs. Lioli (15:00)
Matlama vs. Lioli (09:00)
LDF vs. Kick4Life (11:00)
3rd/4th playoff (13:00)
3rd/4th playoff (09:00)
LNIG Top 8 past winners:
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