Derby prom­ises fire­works

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Pride will be at stake when Likhopo host Mat­lama at LCS Ground, set­ting the tone for a po­ten­tially thrilling Maseru derby.

The fix­ture is ar­guably the pick of Satur­day’s Vo­da­com Pre­mier League ties as der­bies do not come any big­ger than this one.

How­ever, The red Army, as Likhopo are af­fec­tion­ately known, wade into Satur­day’s battle with­out star-striker Thapelo Tale, who has left the coun­try to fur­ther his stud­ies in Bel­gium. On the other hand, Tse Put­soa would be in buoy­ant mood fol­low­ing the re­turn of for­mer cap­tain, Nkau Lerotholi, from South Africa.

Lerotholi joined Pre­to­ri­abased First di­vi­sion side Garankuwa United, but could not se­cure a work per­mit, prompt­ing his re­turn to Tse Put­soa.

Af­ter fail­ing to play against Linare last week­end be­cause of in- com­plete pa­per­work, Mat­lama fi­nally reg­is­tered the iconic de­fender with the league on Mon­day this week.

Mean­while, in ad­di­tion to Lerotholi’s avail­abil­ity for Satur­day’s clash, new sign­ing Mabuti Pot­loane makes a re­turn to the team af­ter miss­ing last week­end’s clash against his for­mer club.

The 2013/14 Vo­da­com Pre­mier League player-of-the-sea­son an­nounced his ar­rival at Tse Put­soa with a goal in the hard­fought 2-1 win over LDF a fort­night ago.

Ac­cord­ing to vet­eran play­maker Pali Tša­long, Lerotholi’s re­turn and Pot­loane’s ar­rival have made Mat­lama a force ca­pa­ble of push­ing Li­oli, who lead the 14team Pre­mier League ta­ble, and sec­ond-placed Bantu, all the way in the race for the league ti­tle.

Last Sun­day, fifth-placed Mat­lama roared back from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw against sev­enth-placed Linare in Hlotse, which Tša­long said showed the team’s char­ac­ter and self-be­lief.

“Most of th­ese ri­val teams are so mo­ti­vated to stop us, and this was very ev­i­dent against Linare last week­end,” Tša­long told the Le­sotho Times.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the poor con­di­tion of the pitch worked against us last week­end. We con­ceded very early and had to work hard to find our way back into the match and that showed a lot of char­ac­ter and de­ter­mi­na­tion. And you must re­mem­ber we didn’t have Mabuti and Nkau when this hap­pened.”

On the other hand, eighth­placed Likhopo are brim­ming with con­fi­dence fol­low­ing last Sun­day’s 3-2 win over base­mentside Qoal­ing High­landers.

Team manager Qa­mako Ma­hao told the Le­sotho Times that while the Likhopo fam­ily would miss Tale, the match against Mat­lama would still be fiercely con­tested as it was more than a league game to the club.

“This is a derby and a com- pletely dif­fer­ent ball-game al­to­gether,” Ma­hao said.

“All our play­ers are fit and rar­ing to go. We had a morale-boost­ing win last week­end, which means spir­its are high in our camp ahead of this tie, which we be­lieve we are go­ing to win.”

The team, he added, would have its con­fi­dence high fol­low­ing the re­turn to full fit­ness of star-mid­fielder Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana.

in other league matches set for Satur­day, High­landers host 10th placed Kick­4life in Qoal­ing, while LMPS, who are sec­ond from bot­tom on the log, en­ter­tain sixth-placed Lik­ila United at PTC Ground.

On Sun­day, Li­oli face fourth­placed LCS at Set­soto Sta­dium; Bantu battle Sun­dawana who oc­cupy po­si­tion nine on the log, in Butha-buthe; third-placed LDF are at home ver­sus Linare and 11th po­si­tioned Nyenye rovers battle-it-out with 12th placed Mphat­lalat­sane.

For­mer mat­lama cap­tain, Nkau Lerotholi, is back at the club and avail­able for se­lec­tion for Satur­day’s clash against Likhopo

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