Big guns in Top8 show­down

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

LINARE coach Freeze Ntene has called on his troops to prove the Hlotse-based out­fit are not “a one-man team”.

The side, which sur­prised many with a third-place fin­ish in the Vo­da­com Pre­mier League race last sea­son, face Likhopo in the first leg of the LNIG Top8 quar­ter­fi­nal this week­end, with­out in­flu­en­tial cap­tain Mabuti Pot­loane.

The mid­fielder had been the bedrock of the team over re­cent years, but has left for nine-time league cham­pi­ons Mat­lama.

Ntene ad­mits Pot­loane’s de­par­ture has left a huge void at the club, but is adamant his team could still com­pete for hon­ours with­out the gifted na­tional team play­maker.

Pot­loane could make his de­but in Mat­lama’s fa­mous blue-and-white strip when Tse Put­soa play Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) in the same com­pe­ti­tion on Sun­day, and Ntene says there is no down­play­ing what the player’s ab­sence means for the team.

“The truth must be said; he was a spe­cial player at the club and it will be re­ally dif­fi­cult to play with­out him, but life must go on,” Ntene said on Mon­day this week.

“Mabuti has left a big gap at the club as he was the leader of the team. In ad­di­tion to his ob­vi­ous tal­ent, he had gained a lot of in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence with the na­tional team, which was help­ing make Linare the team that it had be­come.

“But like I said, we still have play­ers who can take us places in the ab­sence of Mabuti, but it is up to these boys to prove this and also show the foot­ball fra­ter­nity that we are not a one-man team. The play­ers need to prove that there is life at Linare af­ter Mabuti.

“This is the big re­spon­si­bil­ity that we all have at the club, and it starts against Likhopo in the LNIG Top8 quar­ter­fi­nal on Satur­day. It would be good to get to the fi­nal the way we did last year, and prove we are a big team that works as a unit and not in­di­vid­u­als.

“This club is big­ger than any player and this is the ideal op­por­tu­nity to prove this.

“We will work hard through­out this week to build on our league win over Qoal­ing High­landers last Satur­day as we pre­pare for Likhopo.”

Tse Tala, as Linare are af­fec­tion­ately known, have se­cured the ser­vices of for­mer Qoal­ing High­landers mid­fielder, Bu­lara Maema, who has been handed Pot­loane’s Num­ber 10 shirt.

And Ntene is hop­ing the new ar­rival could quickly set­tle into the team and help Linare in their quest for hon­ours.

Mean­while, Bantu host Qoal­ing High­landers in Mafeteng in the other Top8 quar­terfin quar­ter­fi­nal first leg tie sched­uled for Saturda Satur­day.

A Matšo Mate­bele have a busy sched­ule as they wo would be tak­ing part in three dif­fer­ent competitions — the African Cham­pi­ons League, Top8 and league matches — over the next fo four weeks.

The Mafeten Mafeteng side played friendly mat matches against South AfricanAfric Pre­mier League teams Bloem­fontein Celtic and FreeFr State Stars over the last two week­ends as part of pr prepa­ra­tions for next month’s African Champi pi­ons LeagueLeagu pre­lim­i­nary rou round und match against As­so­ciat cia­tion­tion Sportiv Sportive Man­gas­port of Ga Gabon.abon. L Last Saturd Satur­day, Bantu also p played a league match against Ki Kick­4life, which they won 2-0. How­ever, the tea team lost 1-0 to Free S State Stars the fol­low fol­low­ing day. High­landers, on the other hand, are go­ing through a cri­sis, and lost 1-0 to Linare l last Satur­day. They re­main roote root­eded at the bot­tom of the 14-teeam 14-team Voda Vo­da­com Pre­mier LeatLeague gue standin stand­ings.Qoalin

The Qoal­ing-based side hav have ve only won one of their 14 leag league gue matches of the 2014/15 seaso sea­son, n, and need to be at their best to gett away with a sur­prise win over the st star-stud­ded­tar-stud­ded Bantu.

In ano an­oth­erother Top8 quar­ter­fi­nal match set for the wee week­end, Le­sotho De­fence Fforce Force (LDF) host Mat­lama at Ratjom Ratjo­mose mose Bar­rac Bar­racks Ground on Sunda Sun­day.

Both te teams won their re­spec­tive league ma matches last week­end, with Mat­lama beat­ing Mphat­lalat­sane 2-1, while LDF edged Nyenye Rovers 1-0.

Mat­lam Mat­lama would be hop­ing to con­clude the deal to bring Pot­loane to the club b be­fore the week­end match, although thet player is al­ready train­ing with Tse Put­soa.

Yet LD LDF coach, Male­fet­sane Pheko, is con­fi­dent his team would beat Mat­lama and progress to the semi-fi­nal of the money-spin­ning tour­na­ment whose win­ner pock­ets a cool M100 000.

“We had a promis­ing start to the 2014/15 sea­son and the team has con­tin­ued to grow. I’m con­fi­dent these play­ers can bring back the glory days to the club,” Pheko said.

“My dream, as the coach of this team, is to see us dom­i­nat­ing lo­cal foot­ball again and I think we have the qual­ity to do so.

“We have shown a lot of im­prove­ment and will keep­ing work­ing hard to achieve some­thing this sea­son.”

In yet another Top8 quar­ter­fi­nal first-leg fix­ture, Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice (LCS) host defending cham­pi­ons Li­oli on Sun­day.

Tse Nala failed to score in their drawn league match against Sun­dawana last Satur­day, and would be hop­ing to fire when they face LCS at LCS Ground.

The ab­sence of star-striker Tšepo Se­tu­ru­mane, who is un­der­go­ing train­ing to be­come a po­lice of­fi­cer, could prove costly for Li­oli.

Se­tu­ru­mane and another Li­oli star — de­fen­sive rock Ba­sia Makepe — would be away for the next six months as they would be at Po­lice Train­ing Col­lege (PTC) in Maseru.

TLNIG TOP8 QUAR­TER­FI­NAL FIX­TURES

Satur­day: FC Likhopo v Linare, Bantu v Qoal­ing High­landers.

SUN­DAY: ma.

LCS v Li­oli, LDF v Matla-

Bantu de­fender Thabo Ma­su­alle

MAT­LAMA mi­fielder Phafa Ts’os­ane

Li­oli mid­fielder Lekhanya Lekhanya

LDF de­fender Tu­mane Lethakha

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